Skip to main content

Full text of "Contemporary American Philosophy Vol II"

See other formats


THE BOOK WAS 
DRENCHED 



CO >- CO 

164441 



^ DO 1< CO 



OSMANIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 

Call No. )<!// C V.*L . Accession No. 



Titlc 




This book should he rcturned/n or before the date last marked below! 




LIBRARY OF PHILOSOPHY 

GENERAL EDITOR: 
PROFESSOR J. H. MUIRHEAD, LL.D. 

ANALYTIC PSYCHOLOGY By Prof. G. F. Stout. Two Vols. 5th Impression. 
APPEARANCE AND REALITY By F. H. Bradley. Sth Impression. 
ATTENTION By Prof. W. B. Pillsbury. 2nd Impression. 

HISTORY OF ESTHETIC By Dr. B. Bosanquet. $th Impression. 4th Edition. 
HISTORY OF ENGLISH UTILITARIANISM By Prof. E. Albcc. 
HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY By J. E. Erdinann. 

Vol. I. ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL. 5th Impression. 
Vol. II. MODERN. 6th Impression. 
Vol. III. SINCE HEGEL, yth Impression. 
HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY By Prof. G. S. Brett. 
Vol. I. ANCIENT AND PATRISTIC. 
Vol. II. MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN PERIOD. 
Vol. III. MODERN PSYCHOLOGY. 
MATTER AND MEMORY By Prof. Henri Bergson. Translated by N. A/. Paul and 

W. S. Palmer, tfh Impression. 

NATURAL RIGHTS By D. G. Ritchie. yd Edition. 

PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICAL ECONOMY By Dr. J. Bonar. jih Impression. 
DEVELOPMENT OF THEOLOGY SINCE KANT By Prof. O. Pfleiderer. 
THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF MIND By G. W. F. Hegel. Translated by Prof. J. B. 

Baillie. 
TIME AND FREE WILL By Prof. Henri Bergson. Translated by F. L. Pogson. $th 

Impression. 

VALUATION: THE THEORY OF VALUE By W. M. Urban. 
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE By Prof. G. M. Stratton. 2nd 

Edition. 
THE GREAT PROBLEMS By Prof. Bernardino Varisco. Translated by Prof. K. C. 

Lodge. 

KNOW THYSELF By Prof. Bernardino Varisco. Translated by Dr. Guglielmo Salvadori. 
ELEMENTS OF FOLK PSYCHOLOGY By W. Wundt. Translated by Dr. Edward L. 

Schaub. $rd Impression. 
ELEMENTS OF CONSTRUCTIVE PHILOSOPHY By Prof. J. S. Mackenzie. 2nd 

Impression. 
SOCIAL PURPOSE By Principal H. J. W. Hethcrington and Prof. J. H. Muirhead. 

2nd Impression. 
INTRODUCTION TO MATHEMATICAL PHILOSOPHY By Bertrand Russell, F.R.S. 

yd Impression. 
GOD AND PERSONALITY (GIFFORD LECTURES) By Prof. Clement C. J. Webb. (Part I.) 

2nd Impression. 
DIVINE PERSONALITY AND HUMAN LIFE (GIFFORD LECTURES) By Prof. Clement 

C.J.Webb. (Part II.) 2nd Impression. 
MODERN PHILOSOPHY By Guido de Ruggiero. Translated by A. Howard Hannay, 

B.A., and R. G. Collmgwood, M.A., F.S.A. 

THE ANALYSIS OF MIND By Bertrand Russell, F.R.S. yd Impression. 
DIALpGUES ON METAPHYSICS By Nicolas Malcbranchc. Translated by Morris 

Ginsberg, M.A. 

INDIAN PHILOSOPHY By Prof. S. Radhakrishnan. 2nd Edition. Vol. T. 

Vol. II, 
CONTEMPORARY BRITISH PHILOSOPHY Edited by Prof. J. H. Muirhead. Two 

. Vols. 
THE WAYS OF KNOWING: OR, THE METHODS OF PHILOSOPHY By Prof. W. P. 

Montague, Ph.D. 2nd Impression. 
A THEORY OF DIRECT REALISM; AND THE RELATION OF REALISM 10 IDEALISM 

By J. E. Turner, M.A., Ph.D. 
THE GOODWILL: A STUDY IN THE COHERENCE THEORY OF GOODNESS 

By H. T. Paton. 

FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS OF LIFE: AN ESSAY ON CITIZENSHIP AS PUR- 
SUIT OF VALUES By J. S. Mackenzie. 

THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD : METAPHYSICS AND VALUE By W. M. Urban. 
CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY Edited by Prof. George P. Adams 
and Prof. Wm. Pepperell Montague. Two Vols. 

HEGEL'S SCIENCE OF LOGIC Translated by W. II. Johnston and L. G. Struthers. 

Two Vols. 
IDENTITY AND REALITY By Emile Meyersoa. Translated by Kate Loewenberi*. 



CONTEMPORARY 

AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

VOL. II 




PROFESSOR JOHN DEWEY 



CONTEMPORARY 
AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

PERSONAL STATEMENTS 



VOL. II 



BY 



J. DEWEY 
C. I. LEWIS 

J. LOEWENBERG 
A. O. LOVEJOY 
E. B. McGILVARY 
W. P. MONTAGUE 
De W. H. PARKER 
R. B. PERRY 
J. B. PRATT 



A. K. ROGERS 

G. SANTAYANA 
R. W. SELLARS 
E. A. SINGER, Jr. 
C. A. STRONG 
J. H. TUFTS 
W. M. URBAN 
R. M. WENLEY 
F. J. E. WOODBRIDGE 



EDITED BY 

GEORGE P. ADAMS 

AND 

WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 



LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN 6? UNWIN LTD 
NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 



THESE ESSAYS ARE 
AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED TO 

GEORGE HERBERT PALMER 

THE FRIEND AND TEACHER 
OF SO MANY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHERS 



FIR0T PUBLISHED IN 1930 



A II rights reserved 

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY 
UNWIN BROTHERS LTD., WOKING 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

JOHN DEWEY 13 

FROM ABSOLUTISM TO EXPERIMENTALISM 

CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 31 

LOGIC AND PRAGMATISM 

J. LOEWENBERG 55 

PROBLEMATIC REALISM 

ARTHUR O. LOVE JOY 85 

A TEMPORALISTIC REALISM 

EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY . . . .109 

A TENTATIVE REALISTIC METAPHYSICS 

WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE . . . .135 

CONFESSIONS OF AN ANIMISTIC MATERIALIST 

DE WITT H. PARKER 163 

EMPIRICAL IDEALISM 

RALPH BARTON PERRY 187 

REALISM IN RETROSPECT 

JAMES BISSETT PRATT 213 

PERSONAL REALISM 

ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 223 

EMPIRICISM 

GEORGE SANTAYANA 239 

BRIEF HISTORY OF MY OPINIONS 

ROY WOOD SELLARS 261 

REALISM, NATURALISM, AND HUMANISM 

EDGAR A. SINGER, Jr 289 

CONFESSIO PHILOSOPHI 

CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG . . . .313 

NATURE AND MIND 



10 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

PAGE 

JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 333 

WHAT I BELIEVE 



WILBUR M. URBAN 356 

METAPHYSICS AND VALUE 

ROBERT MARK WENLEY 385 

AN UNBORN IDEALISM 

FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE . . . .415 

CONFESSIONS 

INDEX 439 



FROM ABSOLUTISM TO EXPERI- 
MENTALISM 

By JOHN DEWEY 

Born 1859; Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, 
New York City. 



FROM ABSOLUTISM TO EXPERIMENTALISM 

IN the late 'seventies, when I was an undergraduate, "electives" 
were still unknown in the smaller New England colleges. But in 
the one I attended, the University of Vermont, the tradition of 
a "senior-year course" still subsisted. This course was regarded 
as a kind of intellectual coping to the structure erected in earlier 
years, or, at least, as an insertion of the key-stone of the arch. 
It included courses in political economy, international law, 
history of civilization (Guizot), psychology, ethics, philosophy of 
religion (Butler's Analogy), logic, etc., not history of philosophy, 
save incidentally. The enumeration of these titles may not serve 
the purpose for which it is made; but the idea was that after 
three years of somewhat specialized study in languages and 
sciences, the last year was reserved for an introduction into 
serious intellectual topics of wide and deep significance an 
introduction into the world of ideas. I doubt if in many cases it 
served its alleged end; however, it fell in with my own inclina- 
tions, and I have always been grateful for that year of my 
schooling. There was, however, one course in the previous year 
that had excited a taste that in retrospect may be called philo- 
sophical. That was a rather short course, without laboratory 
work, in Physiology, a book of Huxley's being the text. It is 
difficult to speak with exactitude about what happened to me 
intellectually so many years ago, but I have an impression that 
there was derived from that study a sense of interdependence and 
interrelated unity that gave form to intellectual stirrings that had 
been previously inchoate, and created a kind of type or model 
of a view of things to which material in any field ought to con- 
form. Subconsciously, at least, I was led to desire a world and 
a life that would have the same properties as had the human 
organism in the picture of it derived from study of Huxley's 
treatment. At all events, I got great stimulation from the study, 
more than from anything I had had contact with before ; and 
as no desire was awakened in me to continue that particular 
branch of learning, I date from this time the awakening of a 
distinctive philosophic interest. 



14 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

The University of Vermont rather prided itself upon its 
tradition in philosophy. One of its earlier teachers, Dr. Marsh, 
was almost the first person in the United States to venture upon 
the speculative and dubiously orthodox seas of German thinking 
that of Kant, Schelling, and Hegel. The venture, to be sure, 
was made largely by way of Coleridge ; Marsh edited an American 
edition of Coleridge's Aids to Reflection. Even this degree of 
speculative generalization, in its somewhat obvious tendency to 
rationalize the body of Christian theological doctrines, created a 
flutter in ecclesiastical dovecots. In particular, a controversy 
was carried on between the Germanizing rationalizers and the 
orthodox representatives of the Scottish school of thought through 
the representatives of the latter at Princeton. I imagine 
although it is a very long time since I have had any contact with 
this material that the controversy still provides data for a sec- 
tion, if not a chapter, in the history of thought in this country. 

Although the University retained pride in its pioneer work, 
and its atmosphere was for those days theologically 'liberal" 
of the Congregational type the teaching of philosophy had 
become more restrained in tone, more influenced by the still 
dominant Scotch school. Its professor, Mr. H. A. P. Torrey, was 
a man of genuinely sensitive and cultivated mind, with marked 
esthetic interest and taste, which, in a more congenial atmosphere 
than that of northern New England in those days, would have 
achieved something significant. He was, however, constitutionally 
timid, and never really let his mind go. I recall that, in a con- 
versation I had with him a few years after graduation, he said: 
"Undoubtedly pantheism is the most satisfactory form of meta- 
physics intellectually, but it goes counter to religious faith/ 1 I 
fancy that remark told of an inner conflict that prevented his 
native capacity from coming to full fruition. His interest in 
philosophy, however, was genuine, not perfunctory; he was an 
excellent teacher, and I owe to him a double debt, that of turning 
my thoughts definitely to the study of philosophy as a life- 
pursuit, and of a generous gift of time to me during a year 
devoted privately under his direction to a reading of classics in 
the history of philosophy and learning to read philosophic 



JOHN DEWEY 15 

German. In our walks and talks during this year, after three 
years on my part of high-school teaching, he let his mind go 
much more freely than in the class-room, and revealed poten- 
tialities that might have placed him among the leaders in the 
development of a freer American philosophy but the time for 
the latter had not yet come. 

Teachers of philosophy were at that time, almost to a man, 
clergymen; the supposed requirements of religion, or theology, 
dominated the teaching of philosophy in most colleges. Just how 
and why Scotch philosophy lent itself so well to the exigencies of 
religion I cannot say; probably the causes were more extrinsic 
than intrinsic; but at all events there was a firm alliance estab- 
lished between religion and the cause of " intuition' '. It is prob- 
abty impossible to recover at this date the almost sacrosanct 
air that enveloped the idea of intuitions; but somehow the cause 
of all holy and valuable things was supposed to stand or fall 
with the validity of intuitionalism; the only vital issue was 
'that between intuitionalism and a sensational empiricism that 
explained away the reality of all higher objects. The story of this 
almost forgotten debate, once so urgent, is probably a factor 
in developing in me a certain scepticism about the depth and 
range of purely contemporary issues ; it is likely that many of 
those which seem highly important to-day will also in a genera- 
tion have receded to the status of the local and provincial. It 
also aided in generating a sense of the value of the history of 
philosophy; some of the claims made for this as a sole avenue 
of approach to the study of philosophic problems seem to me 
misdirected and injurious. But its value in giving perspective and 
a sense of proportion in relation to immediate contemporary 
issues can hardly be over-estimated. 

I do not mention this theological and intuitional phase because 
it had any lasting influence upon my own development, except 
negatively. I learned the terminology of an intuitional philosophy, 
but it did not go deep, and in no way did it satisfy what I 
was dimly reaching for. I was brought up in a conventionally 
evangelical atmosphere of the more "liberal" sort; and the 
struggles that later arose between acceptance of that faith and 



16 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the discarding of traditional and institutional creeds came from 
personal experiences and not from the effects of philosophical 
teaching. It was not, in other words, in this respect that philosophy 
either appealed to me or influenced me though I am not sure 
that Butler's Analogy, with its cold logic and acute analysis, was 
not, in a reversed way, a factor in developing "scepticism". 

During the year of private study, of which mention has been 
made, I decided to make philosophy my life-study, and accord- 
ingly went to Johns Hopkins the next year (1884) to enter upon 
that new thing, "graduate work". It was something of a risk; the 
work offered there was almost the only indication that there 
were likely to be any self-supporting jobs in the field of philosophy 
for others than clergymen. Aside from the effect of my study with 
Professor Torrey, another influence moved me to undertake the 
risk. During the years after graduation I had kept up philo- 
sophical readings and I had even written a few articles which I 
sent to Dr. W. T. Harris, the well-known Hegelian, and the 
editor of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, the only philo- 
sophic journal in the country at that time, as he and his group 
formed almost the only group of laymen devoted to philosophy 
for non-theological reasons. In sending an article I asked Dr. 
Harris for advice as to the possibility of my successfully prose- 
cuting philosophic studies. His reply was so encouraging that it 
was a distinct factor in deciding me to try philosophy as a pro 
fessional career. 

The articles sent were, as I recall them, highly schematic and 
formal; they were couched in the language of intuitionalism; of 
Hegel I was then ignorant. My deeper interests had not as yet 
been met, and in the absence of subject-matter that would corre- 
spond to them, the only topics at my command were such as were 
capable of a merely formal treatment. I imagine that my develop- 
ment has been controlled largely by a struggle between a native 
inclination toward the schematic and formally logical, and those 
incidents of personal experience that compelled me to take 
account of actual material. Probably there is in the consciously 
articulated ideas of every thinker an over- weight ing of just those 
things that are contrary to his natural tendencies, an emphasis 



JOHN DEWEY 17 

upon those things that are contrary to his intrinsic bent, and 
which, therefore, he has to struggle to bring to expression, while 
the native bent, on the other hand, can take care of itself. 
Anyway, a case might be made out for the proposition that the 
emphasis upon the concrete, empirical, and "practical" in my 
later writings is partly due to considerations of this nature. It 
was a reaction against what was more natural, and it served as 
a protest and protection against something in myself which, in 
the pressure of the weight of actual experiences, I knew to be a 
weakness. It is, I suppose, becoming a commonplace that when 
anyone is unduly concerned with controversy, the remarks that 
seem to be directed against others are really concerned with a 
struggle that is going on inside himself. The marks, the stigmata, 
of the struggle to weld together the characteristics of a formal, 
theoretic interest and the material of a maturing experience of 
contacts with realities also showed themselves, naturally, in 
style of writing and manner of presentation. During the time 
when the schematic interest predominated, writing was com- 
paratively easy; there were even compliments upon the clearness 
of my style. Since then thinking and writing have been hard 
work. It is easy to give way to the dialectic development of a 
theme; the pressure of concrete experiences was, however, suffi- 
ciently heavy, so that a sense of intellectual honesty prevented 
a surrender to that course. But, on the other hand, the formal 
interest persisted, so that there was an inner demand for an intel- 
lectual technique that would be consistent and yet capable of 
flexible adaptation to the concrete diversity of experienced 
things. It is hardly necessary to say that I have not been 
among those to whom the union of abilities to satisfy these two 
opposed requirements, the formal and the material, came easily. 
For that very reason I have been acutely aware, too much so, 
doubtless, of a tendency of other thinkers and writers to achieve 
a specious lucidity and simplicity by the mere process of ignoring 
considerations which a greater respect for concrete materials of 
experience would have forced upon them. 

It is a commonplace of educational history that the opening 
of Johns Hopkins University marked a new epoch in higher 

VOL. II R 



18 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

education in the United States. We are probably not in a condi- 
tion as yet to estimate the extent to which its foundation and the 
development of graduate schools in other universities, following 
its example, mark a turn in our American culture. The 'eighties 
and 'nineties seem to mark the definitive close of our pioneer 
period, and the turn from the civil war era into the new 
industrialized and commercial age. In philosophy, at least, the 
influence of Johns Hopkins was not due to the size of the pro- 
vision that was made. There was a half-year of lecturing and 
seminar work given by Professor George Sylvester Morris, of the 
University of Michigan; belief in the " demonstrated'' (a favourite 
word of his) truth of the substance of German idealism, and of 
belief in its competency to give direction to a life of aspiring 
thought, emotion, and action. I have never known a more single- 
hearted and whole-souled man a man of a single piece all the 
way through; while I long since deviated from his philosophic 
faith, I should be happy to believe that the influence of the 
spirit of his teaching has been an enduring influence. 

While it was impossible that a young and impressionable 
student, unacquainted with any system of thought that satisfied 
his head and heart, should not have been deeply affected, to the 
point of at least a temporary conversion, by the enthusiastic and 
scholarly devotion of Mr. Morris, this effect was far from being 
the only source of my own "Hegelianism". The 'eighties and 
'nineties were a time of new ferment in English thought; the 
reaction against atomic individualism and sensationalistic em- 
piricism was in full swing. It was the time of Thomas Hill Green, 
of the two Cairds, of Wallace, of the appearance of the Essays 
in Philosophical Criticism, co-operatively produced by a younger 
group under the leadership of the late Lord Haldane. This 
movement was at the time the vital and constructive one in 
philosophy. Naturally its influence fell in with and reinforced 
that of Professor Morris. There was but one marked difference, 
and that, I think, was in favour of Mr. Morris. He came to Kant 
through Hegel instead of to Hegel by way of Kant, so that his 
attitude toward Kant was the critical one expressed by Hegel 
himself. Moreover, he retained something of his early Scotch 



JOHN DEWEY 19 

philosophical training in a common-sense belief in the existence 
of the external world. He used to make merry over those who 
thought the existence of this world and of matter were things to 
be proved by philosophy. To him the only philosophical question 
was as to the meaning of this existence ; his idealism was wholly 
of the objective type. Like his contemporary, Professor John 
Watson, of Kingston, he combined a logical and idealistic 
metaphysics with a realistic epistemology. Through his teacher 
at Berlin, Trendelenburg, he had acquired a great reverence for 
Aristotle, and he had no difficulty in uniting Aristoteleanism 
with Hegelianism. 

There were, however, also "subjective" reasons for the appeal 
that Hegel's thought made to me; it supplied a demand for 
unification that was doubtless an intense emotional craving, and 
yet was a hunger that only an intellectualized subject-matter 
could satisfy. It is more than difficult, it is impossible, to recover 
that early mood. But the sense of divisions and separations that 
were, I suppose, borne in upon me as a consequence of a heritage 
of New England culture, divisions by way of isolation of self 
from the world, of soul from body, of nature from God, brought 
a painful oppression or, rather, they were an inward laceration. 
My earlier philosophic study had been an intellectual gymnastic. 
Hegel's synthesis of subject and object, matter and spirit, the 
divine and the human, was, however,no mere intellectual formula; 
it operated as an immense release, a liberation. Hegel's treat- 
ment of human culture, of institutions and the arts, involved the 
same dissolution of hard-and-fast dividing walls, and had a 
special attraction for me. 

As I have already intimated, while the conflict of traditional 
religious beliefs with opinions that I could myself honestly 
entertain was the source of a trying personal crisis, it did 
not at any time constitute a leading philosophical problem. 
This might look as if the two things were kept apart; in 
reality it was due to a feeling that any genuinely sound religious 
experience could and should adapt itself to whatever beliefs 
one found oneself intellectually entitled to hold a half uncon- 
scious sense at first, but one which ensuing years have deepened 



20 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

into a fundamental conviction. In consequence, while I have, 
I hope, a due degree of personal sympathy with individuals who 
are undergoing the throes of a personal change of attitude, I 
have not been able to attach much importance to religion as a 
philosophic problem; for the effect of that attachment seems to 
be in the end a subornation of candid philosophic thinking to 
the alleged but factitious needs of some special set of convictions. 
I have enough faith in the depth of the religious tendencies of 
men to believe that they will adapt themselves to any required 
intellectual change, and that it is futile (and likely to be dis- 
honest) to forecast prematurely just what forms the religious 
interest will take as a final consequence of the great intellectual 
transformation that is going on. As I have been frequently criti- 
cized for undue reticence about the problems of religion, I insert 
this explanation: it seems to me that the great solicitude of 
many persons, professing belief in the universality of the need for 
religion, about the present and future of religion proves that in 
fact they are moved more by partisan interest in a particular 
religion than by interest in religious experience. 

The chief reason, however, for inserting these remarks at this 
point is to bring out a contrast effect. Social interests and prob- 
lems from an early period had to me the intellectual appeal 
and provided the intellectual sustenance that many seem to have 
found primarily in religious questions. In undergraduate days I 
had run across, in the college library, Harriet Martineau's exposi- 
tion of Comte. I cannot remember that his law of "the three 
stages" affected me particularly; but his idea of the disorganized 
character of Western modern culture, due to a disintegrative 
"individualism", and his idea of a synthesis of science that 
should be a regulative method of an organized social life, 
impressed me deeply. I found, as I thought, the same criticisms 
combined with a deeper and more far-reaching integration in 
Hegel. I did not, in those days when I read Francis Bacon, 
detect the origin of the Comtean idea in him, and I had not 
made acquaintance with Condorcet, the connecting link. 

I drifted away from Hegelianism in the next fifteen years; 
the word "drifting" expresses the slow and, for a long time, 



JOHN DEWEY 21 

imperceptible character of the movement, though it does not 
convey the impression that there was an adequate cause for 
the change. Nevertheless I should never think of ignoring, much 
less denying, what an astute critic occasionally refers to as a 
novel discovery that acquaintance with Hegel has left a per- 
manent deposit in my thinking. The form, the schematism, of his 
system now seems to me artificial to the last degree. But in the 
content of his ideas there is often an extraordinary depth; in 
many of his analyses, taken out of their mechanical dialectical 
setting, an extraordinary acuteness. Were it possible for me to be 
a devotee of any system, I still should believe that there is greater 
richness and greater variety of insight in Hegel than in any 
other single systematic philosopher though when I say this I ex- 
clude Plato, who still provides my favourite philosophic reading. 
For I am unable to find in him that all- comprehensive and 
overriding system which later interpretation has, as it seems to 
tne, conferred upon him as a dubious boon. The ancient sceptics 
overworked another aspect of Plato's thought when they treated 
him as their spiritual father, but they were nearer the truth, I 
think, than those who force him into the frame of a rigidly 
systematized doctrine. Although I have not the aversion to system 
as such that is sometimes attributed to me, I am dubious of my 
own ability to reach inclusive systematic unity, and in conse- 
quence, perhaps, of that fact also dubious about my contem- 
poraries. Nothing could be more helpful to present philosophizing 
than a "Back to Plato" movement; but it would have to be 
back to the dramatic, restless, co-operatively inquiring Plato of 
the Dialogues, trying one mode of attack after another to see 
what it might yield; back to the Plato whose highest flight of 
metaphysics always terminated with a social and practical turn, 
and not to the artificial Plato constructed by unimaginative 
commentators who treat him as the original university professor. 
The rest of the story of my intellectual development I am 
unable to record without more faking than I care to indulge in. 
What I have so far related is so far removed in time that I can 
talk about myself as another person ; and much has faded, so that 
a few points stand out without my having to force them into 



zz CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the foreground. The philosopher, if I may apply that word to 
myself, that I became as I moved away from German idealism, 
is too much the self that I still am and is still too much in process 
of change to lend itself to record. I envy, up to a certain point, 
those who can write their intellectual biography in a unified pat- 
tern, woven out of a few distinctly discernible strands of interest 
and influence. By contrast, I seem to be unstable, chameleon-like, 
yielding one after another to many diverse and even incompatible 
influences; struggling to assimilate something from each and yet 
striving to carry it forward in a way that is logically consistent 
with what has been learned from its predecessors. Upon the whole, 
the forces that have influenced me have come from persons and 
from situations more than from books not that I have not, I 
hope, learned a great deal from philosophical writings, but that 
what I have learned from them has been technical in comparison 
with what I have been forced to think upon and about because 
of some experience in which I found myself entangled. It is for 
this reason that I cannot say with candour that I envy com- 
pletely, or envy beyond a certain point, those to whom I have 
referred. I like to think, though it may be a defence reaction, 
that with all the inconveniences of the road I have been forced 
to travel, it has the compensatory advantage of not inducing an 
immunity of thought to experiences which perhaps, after all 
should not be treated even by a philosopher as the germ of a 
disease to which he needs to develop resistance. 

While I cannot write an account of intellectual development 
without giving it the semblance of a continuity that it does not 
in fact own, there are four special points that seem to stand out. 
One is the importance that the practice and theory of education 
have had for me: especially the education of the young, for I 
have never been able to feel much optimism regarding the 
possibilities of "higher" education when it is built upon warped 
and weak foundations. This interest fused with and brought 
together what might otherwise have been separate interests that 
in psychology and that in social institutions and social life. I 
can recall but one critic who has suggested that my thinking 
has been too much permeated by interest in education. Although 



JOHN DEWEY 28 

a book called Democracy and Education was for many years that 
in which my philosophy, such as it is, was most fully expounded, 
I do not know that philosophic critics, as distinct from teachers, 
have ever had recourse to it. I have wondered whether such 
facts signified that philosophers in general, although they are 
themselves usually teachers, have not taken education with 
sufficient seriousness for it to occur to them that any rational 
person could actually think it possible that philosophizing should 
focus about education as the supreme human interest in which, 
moreover, other problems, cosmological, moral, logical, come to a 
head. At all events, this handle is offered to any subsequent 
critic who may wish to lay hold of it. 

A second point is that as my study and thinking progressed, 
I became more and more troubled by the intellectual scandal 
that seemed to me involved in the current (and traditional) 
dualism in logical standpoint and method between something 
called "science" on the one hand and something called "morals" 
on the other. I have long felt that the construction of a logic, 
that is, a method of effective inquiry, which would apply without 
abrupt breach of continuity to the fields designated by both of 
these words, is at once our needed theoretical solvent and the 
supply of our greatest practical want. This belief has had much 
more to do with the development of what I termed, for lack of 
a better word, "instmmentalism", than have most of the reasons 
that have been assigned. 

The third point forms the great exception to what was said 
about no very fundamental vital influence issuing from books; 
it concerns the influence of William James. As far as I can dis- 
cover, one specifiable philosophic factor which entered into my 
thinking so as to give it a new direction and quality, it is this one. 
To say that it proceeded from his Psychology rather than from 
the essays collected in the volume called Will to Believe, his 
Pluralistic Universe, or Pragmatism, is to say something that 
needs explanation. For there are, I think, two unreconciled 
strains in the Psychology. One is found in the adoption of the 
subjective tenor of prior psychological tradition; even when the 
special tenets of that tradition are radically criticized, an under- 



24 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

lying subjectivism is retained, at least in vocabulary and the 
difficulty in finding a vocabulary which will intelligibly convey 
a genuinely new idea is perhaps the obstacle that most retards 
the easy progress of philosophy. I may cite as an illustration the 
substitution of the "stream of consciousness" for discrete ele- 
mentary states : the advance made was enormous. Nevertheless 
the point of view remained that of a realm of consciousness set 
off by itself. The other strain is objective, having its roots in a 
return to the earlier biological conception of the psyche, but a 
return possessed of a new force and value due to the immense 
progress made by biology since the time of Aristotle. I doubt if 
we have as yet begun to realize all that is due to William James 
for the introduction and use of this idea; as I have already inti- 
mated, I do not think that he fully and consistently realized it 
himself. Anyway, it worked its way more and more into all my 
ideas and acted as a ferment to transform old beliefs. 

If this biological conception and mode of approach had been 
prematurely hardened by James, its effect might have been 
merely to substitute one schematism for another. But it is not 
tautology to say that James's sense of life was itself vital. He had 
a profound sense, in origin artistic and moral, perhaps, rather 
than "scientific", of the difference between the categories of the 
living and of the mechanical; some time, I think, someone may 
write an essay that will show how the most distinctive factors in 
his general philosophic view, pluralism, novelty, freedom, indi- 
viduality, are all connected with his feeling for the qualities and 
traits of that which lives. Many philosophers have had much to 
say about the idea of organism; but they have taken it 
structurally and hence statically. It was reserved for James to 
think of life in terms of life in action. This point, and that about 
the objective biological factor in James's conception of thought 
(discrimination, abstraction, conception, generalization), is funda- 
mental when the role of psychology in philosophy comes under 
consideration. It is true that the effect of its introduction into 
philosophy has often, usually, been to dilute and distort the 
latter. But that is because the psychology was bad psychology. 

I do not mean that I think that in the end the connection of 



JOHN DEWEY 25 

psychology with philosophy is, in the abstract, closer than is 
that of other branches of science. Logically it stands on the same 
plane with them. But historically and at the present juncture 
the revolution introduced by James had, and still has, a peculiar 
significance. On the negative side it is important, for it is indis- 
pensable as a purge of the heavy charge of bad psychology that 
is so embedded in the philosophical tradition that is not generally 
recognized to be psychology at all. As an example, I would say 
that the problem of "sense data", which occupies such a great 
bulk in recent British thinking, has to my mind no significance 
other than as a survival of an old and outworn psychological 
doctrine although those who deal with the problem are for the 
most part among those who stoutly assert the complete irrele- 
vance of psychology to philosophy. On the positive side we 
have the obverse of this situation. The newer objective psychology 
supplies the easiest way, pedagogically if not in the abstract, by 
which to reach a fruitful conception of thought and its work, 
and thus to better our logical theories provided thought and 
logic have anything to do with one another. And in the present 
state of men's minds the linking of philosophy to the significant 
issues of actual experience is facilitated by constant interaction 
with the methods and conclusionsof psychology. The more abstract 
sciences, mathematics and physics, for example, have left their 
impress deep upon traditional philosophy. The former, in connec- 
tion with an exaggerated anxiety about formal certainty, has 
more than once operated to divorce philosophic thinking from 
connection with questions that have a source in existence. The 
remoteness of psychology from such abstractions, its nearness 
to what is distinctively human, gives it an emphatic claim for 
a sympathetic hearing at the present time. 

In connection with an increasing recognition of this human 
aspect, there developed the influence which forms the fourth 
heading of this recital. The objective biological approach of the 
Jamesian psychology led straight to the perception of the 
importance of distinctive social categories, especially communica- 
tion and participation. It is my conviction that a great deal of 
our philosophizing needs to be done over again from this point 



26 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

of view, and that there will ultimately result an integrated 
synthesis in a philosophy congruous with modern science and 
related to actual needs in education, morals, and religion. One 
has to take a broad survey in detachment from immediate pre- 
possessions to realize the extent to which the characteristic traits 
of the science of to-day are connected with the development 
of social subjects anthropology, history, politics, economics, 
language and literature, social and abnormal psychology, and so 
on. The movement is both so new, in an intellectual sense, and 
we are so much of it and it so much of us, that it escapes definite 
notice. Technically the influence of mathematics upon philosophy 
is more obvious; the great change that has taken place in recent 
years in the ruling ideas and methods of the physical sciences 
attracts attention much more easily than does the growth of the 
social subjects, just because it is farther away from impact 
upon us. Intellectual prophecy is dangerous; but if I read the 
cultural signs of the times aright, the next synthetic movement 
in philosophy will emerge when the significance of the social 
sciences and arts has become an object of reflective attention in 
the same way that mathematical and physical sciences have been 
made the objects of thought in the past, and when their full 
import is grasped. If I read these signs wrongly, nevertheless the 
statement may stand as a token of a factor significant in my 
own intellectual development. 

In any case, I think it shows a deplorable deadness of imagina 
tion to suppose that philosophy will indefinitely revolve within 
the scope of the problems and systems that two thousand years 
of European history have bequeathed to us. Seen in the long 
perspective of the future, the whole of western European history 
is a provincial episode. I do not expect to see in my day a genuine 
as distinct from a forced and artificial, integration of thought. 
But a mind that is not too egotistically impatient can have 
faith that this unification will issue in its season. Meantime a 
chief task of those who call themselves philosophers is to help 
get rid of the useless lumber that blocks our highways of thought, 
and strive to make straight and open the paths that lead to the 
future. Forty years spent in wandering in a wilderness like that 



JOHN DEWEY 27 

of the present is not a sad fate unless one attempts to make 
himself believe that the wilderness is after all itself the promised 
land. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

The School and Society (University of Chicago Press, 1900). 

Ethics (with James H. Tufts), (Henry Holt & Co., 1908). 

Influence of Darwin and Other Essays (Henry Holt, 1910). 

How We Think (D. C. Heath, 1910). 

Democracy and Edit cation (Macmillan & Co., 1916). 

Essays in Experimental Logic (University of Chicago Press, 1916). 

Reconstruction in Philosophy (Henry Holt, 1920). 

Human Nature and Conduct (Henry Holt, 1922; London: George 

Allen & Unwin Ltd.). 
Experience and Nature (Open Court Publishing Co., 1925; London: 

George Allen & Unwin Ltd.) 
The Public and Its Problems (Henry Holt, 1927; London: George 

Allen & Unwin Ltd.). 
The Quest for Certainty (Minton Balch & Co., New York, 1929). 



LOGIC AND PRAGMATISM 



By CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 

Born 1883; Associate Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University, 
Cambridge, Mass. 



LOGIC AND PRAGMATISM 

THE most powerful single influence in my intellectual develop- 
ment was an old lady whom I met when I was fifteen. A year or 
two earlier I had begun a period of the most intense and furious 
thinking I shall ever experience. The combination of native 
scepticism and an orthodox upbringing had proved to be an 
explosive mixture : I had been plunged into doubts and questions 
which went on and on until I faced the universe with something 
of the wonder of the first man. The old lady, with compassionate 
understanding, confessed that she too was a heretic, and after 
establishing our agreements we went on to the much more 
enticing matter of our disagreements. Our discussions continued, 
at intervals, over a period of about two years, at the end of which 
time I had worked out my own answers to the puzzles which 
beset me. Some of these, I am sure, must have startled and amused 
my mentor, but she always agreed solemnly to consider them. 

As yet no book on philosophy had even fallen under my eye ; 
but about this time someone must have said the right word, 
because I remember reading a short history of Greek philosophy 
(Marshall's, I think), and then, following the references, looking 
into Ueberweg and the Zellcr books. My chagrin was enormous. 
Much of my philosophy had been anticipated by two gentlemen 
named Heraclitus and Anaxagoras, and the rest could be fairly 
duplicated by a judicious eclecticism amongst the other pre- 
Socratics. It was my first professional disappointment, and 
quite the most grievous. I read Spencer's First Principles also, 
and found there much of stimulus and much which broadened 
my horizons so much, in fact, that I cannot now recall any 
sense of bewilderment or failure to understand. Very likely I did 
not comprehend enough of it even to be properly puzzled. 

Nothing comparable in importance happened after that until 
I became acquainted with Kant. I was now safely under academic 
auspices, and thinking was no longer a lone adventure. Kant 
compelled me. He had, so I felt, followed scepticism to its inevit- 
able laat stage, and laid his foundations where they could not be 
disturbed* I was then, and have continued to be, impatient of 



32 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

those who seem not to face the sceptical doubt seriously. Kant 
attracted me also by his intellectual integrity and by the mas- 
siveness and articulation of his structure. The evidence of Kant 
in my thinking ever since is unmistakable, however little I may 
achieve the excellences which aroused my youthful admiration. 

Of my teachers at Harvard, Royce impressed me most. His 
ponderous cogency kept my steady attention, even though I 
never followed to his metaphysical conclusions. James, I thought, 
had a swift way of being right, but how he reached his conclusions 
was his own secret. Royce was, in fact, my paradigm of a philo- 
sopher, and I was prone to minimize the difference from him of 
such convictions as I had. It was Royce himself, finally, with 
my doctor's thesis before him, who pointed out the extent of 
these differences. He concluded by saying, with his usual dry 
humour, "I thought you were principally influenced by Perry, 
but I find he thinks you are principally influenced by me. Between 
us, we agreed that perhaps this is original/' 

Royce was also responsible for my interest in logic, or at least 
for the direction which it took. In 1910-11 I was his assistant 
in two courses in that subject, and he put into my hands one 
of the first copies of Principia Mathematica, volume i, which 
came to Cambridge. It is difficult now to appreciate what a 
novelty this work then was to all of us. Its logistic method was 
so decidedly an advance upon SchrSder and Peano. The principles 
of mathematics were here deduced from definitions alone, without 
other assumptions than those of logic. I spent the better part of a 
year upon it. 

However, I was troubled from the first by the presence in 
the logic of Principia of the theorems peculiar to material impli- 
cation, such as "A false proposition implies any proposition," and 
"A true proposition is implied by any." The theorems them- 
selves, of course, were familiar; they went back to Peirce and 
Schr6der. But in spite of Peirce's remarks on the topic, I had 
never taken them seriously, because of their obvious historical 
origin. 

The investigations to which I was moved by this relatively 
small matter grew in scope and occupied such leisure as I had 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 33 

for the next six years. Moreover, my thinking on other philo- 
sophic topics has been much influenced by these researches, so 
that I must present, as briefly as possible, the gist of this 
problem. 

Those logicians who were earliest interested in an exact 
calculus of logic had, all of them, turned first to the relations 
of concepts or classes. This necessitates a choice as may be 
discovered by their mistakes between the logic of intension and 
the logic of extension. The relations of class-names in intension 
are meagre in certain ways, and hardly afford a calculus. Boole 
founded the algebra of logic, where Leibniz and his Continental 
successors had failed; principally because Boole interpreted 
logical relations exclusively in extension. This is no particular 
merit of Boole's; it seems, rather, to result from the fact that 
he was born in Great Britain, and knew nothing about his Conti- 
nental predecessors. British logicians, when really original, have 
always thought in terms of extension; Continental ones in terms 
K)f intension. (Some psychologist with an eye for history ought 
to investigate this.) So Boole took the universal proposition, 
"All a is b," to mean, 'The class of things a is included in the 
class &/' instead of 'The concept a includes or implies the con- 
cept &/' as a Continental would have done. This extensional point 
of view requires the special case that if there are no members of 
the class a, then "All a is b" will hold, regardless of the conno- 
tations of a and b. If Boole had any misgivings about this para- 
dox, the arithmetical analogies which he followed in constructing 
his algebra would have compelled it in any case. The null-class is 
contained in every class just as o < x, for any positive number x. 
The converse principle, that any class is contained in the class of 
"everything/' is obvious. 

The effect of these limiting cases is to restrict the interpretation 
of the algebra as a logic of class-terms to the relations of exten- 
sion. If there are no centaurs, then all the centaurs there are 
will be Greeks; this is true regardless of the connotation or 
intension of "centaur" and "Greek/* It does not follow that if 
there were any centaurs they would be Greeks. 

Now Boole discovered a second application of his algebra, 
VOL. ii c 



34 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to propositions (more correctly, to prepositional functions). 
For this, he let the symbols a, 6, c, . . . represent the times when 
the propositions A, B, C, ... are true. Here the analogue of 
"All a is V 1 is, " Whenever A is true, B is true/' or "A implies 
B." If the algebra is to have this second application, the proper- 
ties of implication must be point for point analogous to those of 
classes in extension. Hence if A = o that is, if A is always false 
then A must imply any proposition B whatever. And if B is 
always true that is, if B = i then B must be implied by 
every proposition. Boole's principal successors, Peirce and 
Schroder, observed that a proposition, as distinguished from a 
propositional function, if once true is always true. Hence as 
applied to propositions, A = o may be interpreted simply as 
"A is false," and B = i as "B is true." 

Thus the application of the algebra to propositions requires 
these two principles, "A false proposition implies anything," and, 
"A true proposition is implied by any." In the sense of "implies," 
which figures in the algebra, "A implies B" will hold if A is false 
or if B is true, and will fail only when A is true and B is false. 

As the analogy with classes shows, this is the case only because 
the algebra must be restricted to relations of extension. The 
relation here designated by "implies" is such that a false pro- 
position implies anything, but that throws no light on what it 
would imply if it were true. 

A meaning of "implies" which is such that the implications 
of a proposition depend upon its truth or falsity is certainly not 
the usual one. And the peculiar properties of it are neither 
important logical discoveries nor absurdities; they are merely 
the inevitable consequences of a novel denotation for an old 
and familiar word, long used in common parlance in a different 
meaning. Thus the calculus of propositions which is historically 
continuous with Boole is not a calculus of implications, such as 
those with which logic and deduction generally have always been 
concerned. This new meaning of "implies" (now called "material 
implication") should be submitted to some examination before 
its la.ws are accepted as a canon of deduction. Such examination 
was lacking in Principia. 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 85 

Two sorts of problems were before me. First and most obvi- 
ously: Is there an exact logic, comparable to this extensional 
calculus, which will exhibit the analogous relations in intension? 
And is the intensional analogue of material implication the 
relation upon which deductive inference is usuallv founded? 
Second, there were larger and vaguer questions: Could there be 
different exact logics? If I should find my calculus of intension, 
it and material implication would be incompatible, on some 
points, when applied to inference. In that case, in what sense 
would there be a question of validity or truth to be determined 
between them? And what criteria could determine the validity 
of logic, since logic itself provides the criteria of validity used 
elsewhere, and the application of these to logic itself would be 
petitio principii ? 

Even the two questions of the first sort could not really be 
determined in separation from these more general problems. 
Yet I chose to begin with them. It seemed more promising to 
argue from exactly determined facts of the behaviour of sym- 
bolic systems to conclusions on more general problems than to 
attempt to reverse this procedure. Logicians who argue from 
''first principles" to the validity or invalidity of logistic develop- 
ments find themselves in a weak position, since they dogmatize 
about a matter which they either have not investigated or have 
approached with an initial prejudice which commits the petitio 
principii just pointed out. 

Leaving, then, the larger questions, I turned to the logistic 
development of the logic of intension. The results of this investi- 
gation may be briefly summarized, since it has been outlined in 
Chapter V of the Survey of Symbolic Logic.* 

1 A note should be added concerning the mistaken postulate, which I 
there assumed for the system of strict implication. This was later pointed 
out by Dr. E. L. Post, and corrected by me in a note in the Journal of 
Philosophy. In developing the system, I had worked for a month to avoid 
this principle, which later turned out to be false. Then, finding no reason 
to think it false, I sacrificed economy and put it in. It was because it thus 
entered the system so late in its development that I was able, when the 
mistake was discovered, to correct it in brief space. 

The system of strict implication, as printed, contained no postulate 
logistically incompatible with a material interpretation, such as 



86 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

The intensional implication relation (or "strict implication" 
as I called it) gives rise to a calculus as exact as the older logistic 
systems. It is also more inclusive; when the extensional relations 
are introduced by definition, it includes the calculus of proposi- 
tions, as previously developed, as a sub-system. While there are 
ambiguities about the usual meaning of "implies," and the 
final issues are such as have seldom been faced at all, on the 
whole accepted deductive procedures and ordinary logical 
intuitions accord with strict implication and do not accord with 
material implication where it diverges. 

The only implication relation upon which inference is likely 
to be based is this intensional or strict implication, for reasons 
which are fairly obvious. "The proposition A materially implies 
the proposition B" means precisely, "It is not the case that A 
is true and B false." This is necessary to ordinary deduction, 
since otherwise false conclusions could be derived from true 
premises, but it is not sufficient. To see this, let us inquire how 
this relation might be verified as holding. In a particular case, 
it could be verified simply by finding A to be false; but that 
would mean finding our premise false, so that the conclusion B 
would ordinarily not be drawn. Sometimes, however, we are 
interested to draw the inferences from false assumptions. But 
we should not do this on the basis of material implication, pre- 
cisely because a false premise materially implies anything and 
everything. That A materially implies B, because A is false, 
throws no light on the question what A would imply if it were 
true. 

We might also verify "A materially implies B" in a concrete 
instance by finding B to be true. But this would mean finding 
our conclusion to be true. Most frequently in such cases we should 
not "make the inference" because it would be superfluous. 
Sometimes, however, we are interested to discover what implies 
some known fact and what does not for example, in the testing 

p : p t (p < p) t To include this would have required a funda- 
mental complication, undesirable in a book addressed to beginning students. 
I am lately in receipt of a proof, made by a Polish student, M. Wajsberg, 
that the principle p < . q < p is independent of the amended postulates. 
This covers the same point. 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 37 

of hypotheses. But a known fact is materially implied by any 
hypothesis. Amongst known facts, the material implications of 
all hypotheses whatever are identical. 

Consequently no use can be made of material implication in 
drawing valid inferences, except in those cases in which the 
implication can be known to hold for some other reason than 
that the premise is false or that the conclusion is true. When we 
inquire how we can know that it is not the case that A is true 
and B false, without knowing that A is false and without know- 
ing that B is true, the only answer is: By knowing that if A 
were true, B must be true; by knowing that the truth of A is 
inconsistent with the falsity of B; by knowing that the situation 
in which A should be true and B false is an impossible situation. 
That is to say, the only case in which any inference could be 
based on a material implication is precisely the case in which it 
should coincide (and be known to coincide) with the intensional 
6r strict implication of B by A . This amounts to saying that the 
real basis of the inference is the strict implication. "A strictly 
implies B" means exactly "The truth of A is inconsistent with the 
falsity of B." 

The so-called "formal implication," "For every x, <f>x materially 
implies *fjx," would coincide, in its general deductive significance, 
with strict implication provided "For every x" be interpreted 
to mean, "For every possible or conceivable x." It will be obvious 
that "For every conceivable x, it is not the case that <f>x is true 
and if/x false," is a strict implication, differently phrased. But if 
"For every x" means "For every x that exists" then this formal 
implication represents the ordinary relation of classes, "Every 
existent thing having the property < has also the property i/t." 
In Principia it is this second interpretation of formal implication 
which is chosen. 

Various technical problems which came to light in the course 
of these investigations may be omitted here as probably of 
small interest to the general reader. However, there is one such 
matter which must be mentioned because it influenced the 
direction of my thinking outside the field of exact logic. Early 
in the course of these researches I formed the conviction that all 



38 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

valid inference, being a matter of intension, rests upon the analysis 
of meaning. The reasons for this will probably be evident from 
the foregoing. But the symbolic relations I was dealing with 
proved to have properties which I had not anticipated, and some 
of these gave me pause. In particular, while it would not be true, 
in the system of strict implication, that a merely false proposi- 
tion implied anything and everything and a merely true pro- 
position is implied by any, it would hold that a "necessary'' 
proposition (defined as one which is implied by its own denial) 
is implied by any, and that a self-contradictory proposition (one 
which implies its own denial) implies anything. 

Had I made a mistake in my assumptions so that the system 
was out of accord with the properties of analytic inference? Or 
did the implication relation of ordinary inference have these 
properties? The latter proved to be the true alternative. There 
was no way to avoid the principles stated by these unexpected 
theorems without giving up so many generally accepted laws 
as to leave it dubious that we could have any formal logic 
at all. 

There were many corroborations. The simplest to set down is 
as follows: Suppose that a proposition A (say, 'To-day is 
Monday ") implies another, B ("To-morrow is Tuesday "). Then 
the premise A, together with any additional proposition, C 
(say, "Mars is not inhabited"), will likewise imply B that is, 
"To-day is Monday and Mars is not inhabited" implies 
"To-morrow is Tuesday." According to another general principle, 
if two premises give a conclusion, but that conclusion is false 
while one of the premises is true, the other premise must be false. 
"All men are mortal" and "Socrates is a man" together imply 
"Socrates is mortal." Hence if all men are mortal, but Socrates 
is not mortal, then it follows that Socrates is not a man 
that is, we have the rule: If "A and C" implies B, then "A but 
not B" implies "not C." Applying this rule to our first example, 
we have: "To-day is Monday and Mars is not inhabited" implies 
"To-morrow is Tuesday," hence "To-day is Monday, but to- 
morrow is not Tuesday" implies "Mars is inhabited." In this 
illustration, the last-mentioned proposition might have been 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 39 

anything you please without altering anything else. Thus ordinary 
logical conceptions require that the affirmation of a premise, 
together with the denial of its consequence (a case of contra- 
diction), will imply anything and everything. 

If, then, I had made no mistake, the line of division which marks 
off that class of propositions which are capable of corroboration 
by logic alone (necessary propositions) from merely empirical 
truths, and marks off the impossible or absurd, which can be 
refuted by logic alone, from merely empirical falsehood, is a 
division of major importance. Possible and impossible, con- 
tingent and necessary, consistent and inconsistent, such cate- 
gories of intension are independent of material truth, and their 
distinct nature is founded in logic itself. Moreover, as is easily 
obvious, all the propositions of logic are truths of intension, and 
therefore certifiable without reference to the merely factual or 
empirical. 

But I had further doubts. In particular it was not clear that 
if one should, by inadvertence, set out with incompatible assump- 
tions, there would be no conclusion whatever which one might 
not draw from them by analytic inference. Nor was it clear that 
all necessary propositions are analytically derivable from any 
assumption you please. The facts of the symbolic system were 
inescapable, and ordinary practice corroborated them ; but what 
did these facts mean? 

In part, the answer was a simple one which should have been 
anticipated. These unexpected properties of implication did not 
mean that all necessary propositions are analytically derivable 
from any arbitrarily chosen assumptions whatever; they did 
represent the fact that implication is not a property of isolated 
propositions as such, but of systems. Necessary truths are all of 
them principles of logic, or such as can be certified on grounds of 
logic alone. Without logic, nothing is derivable from anything; 
the logic of it is implicit in every deductive system. All necessary 
propositions are thus, explicitly or tacitly, present in every 
system, and indeed in every assertion conceived as having logical 
consequences. Inference is analytic of the system rather than 
of its separate and bare constituents. If there is any exact logic 



40 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

which is capable of representing inference as analytic in any 
other sense, I have never been able to discover a clue to it. I 
should but be dumbfounded to learn of such to-morrow, but I 
have followed every lead that has occurred to me, always with 
negative results. 

If inference is analytic of systems, not of propositions in 
isolation, does this mean that logic compels the acceptance of 
a coherence theory of truth or the acceptance of that kind of 
unity of the world which is maintained by logicians of the 
"modern" or Hegelian school? I turned briefly to the considera- 
tion of this possibility though, I must admit, without any con- 
viction of the necessity of so doing because while it had become 
apparent to me that logic required the existence of necessary 
propositions, it was not so apparent that it required the existence 
of any truth which is not necessary. That the distinction of 
necessary and contingent must finally fail and all truth reveal 
itself as necessary, because inference depends on systematic 
unity, is just what the modern logicians claim. The conclusions 
which I reached are outlined in a little paper, 4 'Facts, Systems, 
and the Unity of the World/' The thesis that all truths are 
necessary, and none independent of any other, is hopelessly 
implausible in the light of certain facts of mathematical systems 
concerning which nobody (unless it be the modern logicians them- 
selves) has ever entertained a doubt. The whole development of 
modern geometry, for example, must be somehow invalid if they 
are right. 

The most general and important issue was still before me. I 
had set out to determine a question of truth between two sym- 
bolic systems material implication and a logic of intensional 
implication. This had raised the further question what kind of an 
issue of truth there could be in such a case, and what criteria 
could determine it. I had found, in commonly accepted practices 
and principles, corroboration of the characterizing features of 
strict implication the distinction of necessary from contingent 
truth, the classification of logical principles themselves as neces- 
sary, and, as a consequence, the status of logic as self-affirming 
or self-critical, its principles being implied by their own denial. 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 41 

Could such necessity or self-affirmation be accepted as a final 
criterion of truth in logic? 

There was unmistakable evidence that such was not the case. 
In the first place, both material implication and strict implication 
had this character, yet both could not be accepted as stating the 
truth about what can validly be inferred from what the truth 
of logic. Also I found that other and somewhat similar systems 
could be devised, each of which would have the same general kind 
of mathematical precision and methodological integrity. These 
might be called "pseudo-logics" or "metalogics." Though I made 
no systematic investigation, it became evident that the number 
of such would be limited only by some criterion of " logistic 
system" or of the principles of derivation which should be 
allowed. Such a criterion would itself be an antecedent principle 
limiting "logical" truth. That such a system might be totally 
Unacceptable as a "true logic" and yet be entirely consistent, 
and even self-affirming, in its own terms, is due to the curious 
involution which is peculiar and inevitable to logical truth. 
"Consistency" is the absence of an "implication": two proposi- 
tions are consistent when neither implies the negation of the 
other. Hence if the meaning of "implies" and consequently the 
methods of derivation be allowed to vary, a "queer" logic 
may be "consistent" or "self-critical" in its own "queer" way. 

Thus we revert to the previous question, which now assumes a 
somewhat complicated form. If formal logic is capable of any 
exact development at all, then we are confronted with the task 
of deciding which, amongst various possible and actual logistic 
systems, is such that its principles state the truth about valid 
inference. Internal consistency and "self-criticism" are not 
sufficient criteria to determine a truth which is independent of 
initial assumptions which are themselves logical in nature. Thus 
logic cannot test itself or rather, such test does not prove truth 
in logic. 

It was clear that such a problem has no solution in logic; I 
was carried beyond logic into the field of epistemology. Many other 
strands, not mentioned here, were, of course, already woven 
into my thinking. In particular it had been impressed upon me 



42 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

that it is possible to take symbolic procedures both too seriously 
and too lightly. To paraphrase Hobbes: Symbols are our counters; 
they are the money of fools. But on the other hand, the behaviour 
of symbolic systems is nothing more nor less than the behaviour 
of the human mind, using its most characteristic instrument: 
there is nothing in them which we have not put in ourselves, but 
they teach us inexorably what our commitments mean. 

Also, at just this time it became my duty and privilege to 
turn over the numerous unpublished papers of Charles Peircc. 
Though I was not specially conscious of it, this was perhaps the 
means of stirring up old thoughts of the time when I had listened 
to James, and reminding me also of what Royce used to call 
his "absolute pragmatism/' Again, I had long been attracted 
to certain theses of Dewey's logic if only he would not mis- 
call "logic 1 ' what is rightly a much wider thing, the analysis of 
the constructive thought-process ! The study of exact logic itself 
had revealed unmistakably that in every process of reasoning 
there must be an extra-logical element. This cannot but be so, 
since from any premise or set of premises whatever an infinite 
number of valid inferences can be drawn. (This is an immediate 
consequence of Poretsky's laws.) What is called "the conclusion' ' 
must be selected from this infinity by psychological obviousness 
or by some purpose or interest; certainly logic does not dictate 
it. The direction of thought inevitably belongs, then, to such 
an extra-logical factor. Finally, Peirce's "conceptual prag- 
matism," turning as it does upon the instrumental and empirical 
significance of concepts rather than upon any non-absolute 
character of truth, was at some points consonant with my own 
reflections where James and Dewey were not. 

Whatever it was that turned my thoughts in this direction, 
at any rate I began to see that the principles of logic will answer 
to criteria of the general sort which may be termed pragmatic, 
and that where empirical verification is not in point, and logical 
"necessity" itself is not sufficient, no other kind of criterion can 
in any sense be final. 

It had become apparent from my little experiments with 
strange "logics" that two minds which followed different systems 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 43 

in their modes of inference need not be unintelligible to one 
another that, in fact, they might be so related that when their 
premises were common neither (outside of logic itself) would 
ever reach a conclusion which the other must repudiate as 
false. But, as between two such, the road from premise to con- 
clusion would be more or less direct, more or less impeded. 
Fundamental psychological bent might here dictate a choice. 
Or again, if the general course of experience were other than it 
is if, for example, all processes in nature should be reversible 
then, although no different choice of modes of inference would 
be dictated, a different "logic" would apply with more facility. 
Thus the ultimate ground of accepted logical principles, as 
against other self-consistent modes, might be criteria of con- 
venience (a poor word, but the best I can think of), somewhat 
like those which Poincare suggested as determining our choice 
of Euclidean geometry. 

This thesis, by itself, seems implausible and highly para- 
doxical; the stronghold of pragmatism supposedly lies in the 
empirical; logic is the citadel of rationalism. Nevertheless I 
became more and more convinced that this was right. Prag- 
matism, as ordinarily understood, seems to take things wrong 
end on; it is the element which mind contributes, in truth and 
knowledge, which may be pragmatic; the empirical brute fact 
of the given is absolute datum. Logic contains no material truth; 
it is independent of the given precisely because it dictates nothing 
whatever with regard to the content of experience, but deter- 
mines only the mind's mode of dealing with it. This thought 
suggested others, which soon came to keep it company and miti- 
gate the paradoxical air which it exhibited in isolation. 

A variety of other problems, mainly in the theory of know- 
ledge, had been in my mind for the past few years. Some of 
them were closely related to those already suggested as growing 
out of logic. I now sat down (this was in 1921) to the first draft 
of something concerning these, which I projected as "Studies in 
Logic and Epistemology." These will never see the light. They 
grew from one box to two, and then to several. But the yeast of 
the newly awakened pragmatic conceptions was working too 



44 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

strongly. My thought changed and widened as I attempted to 
formulate it, and the result, instead of moving toward some 
unity of subject and literary coherence, spread in widening 
circles through the whole field of philosophy. It was a most 
satisfactory period to me personally, because in the course of it 
I squared my account with many problems and brought them 
into touch with one another. What I shall venture to call "con- 
ceptualistic pragmatism" proved to be, for me, the key that 
opened many doors. But my notes I put away, except for a rela- 
tively small portion, and concentrated upon certain closely 
related topics which I found myself particularly interested to 
develop further. The attempt to outline some of these is the 
remaining task of this paper. 

Logic, and that which is certifiable on logical grounds alone, 
constitutes the a priori element in knowledge. The Kantian 
cross-classification, by which synthetic judgments a priori become 
the foundations of science, has more and more clearly been proved 
to be without foundation, as mathematics and exact science have 
developed. Mathematics has been shown to be capable of purely 
logical development, by analysis alone, and without recourse to 
any synthetic element, such as geometric constructions, which 
represent an appeal from pure conception to intuition. Principia 
Mathematica represents the final stage of the movement in this 
direction: we see here the deductive development of mathematics 
merely from the logical analysis (definition) of the mathematical 
concepts. There is and must be a synthetic element in judgment 
about the applications of mathematics, about real space, or 
about concrete collections of things. At the same time that 
mathematics becomes purely logical and analytic, it becomes 
abstract. Which of the various abstract geometries applies to 
space becomes a separate and extra-mathematical question, and, 
as Poincare and relativity have shown, one which is to be deter- 
mined either upon empirical grounds; in which case the answer 
is probable only, or by some pragmatic choice, or by some inter- 
play between these two. 

Hume was right in his somewhat wavering conviction that 
the truths of mathematics represent necessary connections of 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 45 

ideas, and likewise right that this by itself does not prove any 
necessary connection of matters of fact. The line between the 
a priori and the a posteriori coincides with the division between 
conceptual and empirical; and it likewise coincides with the 
distinction between what mind itself contributes or determines 
and what is given as datum of sense. 

A priori truth is independent of experience because it is 
purely analytic of our conceptual meanings, and dictates nothing 
to the given. Logic, mathematics, and in general whatever has 
structure and order and system, may be developed in abstraction 
from all consideration of the empirical by purely logical analysis. 
It depends upon nothing but its own conceptual integrity for 
that kind of truth which is possible to abstract systems. 

Such a priori truth is not assertive of material fact, but 
definitive. This is the clue to many problems. In the first place, 
it exhibits clearly the sense in which we can make stipulations 
applicable to experience but independent of its content. In the 
Absence of definitive criteria, experience would be unintelligible; 
these are prerequisite to truth and knowledge, though not to 
mere givenness. The definitive principle is "necessary" truth; 
it cannot be false; it is prerequisite to intelligibility; it must be 
taken in advance of the particular experience ; it dictates nothing 
as to the content of the experience. 

In the second place, this solves the problem of the criterion 
between what mind contributes in truth and knowledge and 
what is independent of the mind. How should we know what 
mind does, if mind could do no different ? I discover what I do 
solely by the difference in what ensues when I refuse to do, or 
do differently. If there should be immutable and "ungetoverable" 
modes of intuition or of thought, the mind could never discover 
that these belonged to itself and were not characters of the 
independent real; they would be absolute data, flatly given in 
experience, and the individual would find them as he finds 
his ears. 

There must, then, in some sense or other, be conceivable 
alternatives to what is a priori. In those modes of our own intel- 
lectual activity which are exhibited in the criteria supplied by 



46 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

definitive principles, there are such alternatives. A definition may 
be laid down in one or another way; we classify and order and 
understand as we ourselves determine. Once our exact concepts 
are taken, the unfolding of them is an absolute truth: there is 
no alternative about that (unless we ascend to some higher 
choice of alternative modes of deductive order itself). But what 
concepts we shall formulate, and what we shall apply, admits of 
choice. The mind approaches the chaos of experience with its 
own intellectual instruments, which are independent of the given 
as the given is of them. Truth and knowledge represent the 
meeting of these two. That the particular truth and knowledge 
may reflect, in some part, a choice of such instruments, that the 
net of understanding may be stretched across the given in terms 
of one or another reference system of conceptual order, is a 
matter which might well be illustrated at some length, but will 
probably be evident without such exemplification. And the 
sense in which the truths of experience will be, on one side, 
determined by the presence of such definitive conceptual order, 
though the content of the given is not thus determined, will 
likewise be clear. The whole trend of exact science serves strongly 
to enforce the fact of this presence, throughout all knowledge, 
of an a priori element which enters through the simple fact 
that experience never supplies its own conceptual interpretation, 
but that conceptual systems, amongst which there may be 
possible choice, serve as criteria of such interpretation, without 
imposing any limit on the empirical content. That in the presence 
of such alternative systems of order, pragmatic criteria, which 
may reflect on the one side human bent and interest, and on the 
other a facility determined by the general character of what is 
presented, will have their place in fixing the truths of experience, 
needs no special demonstration. 

If, however, all truth which can be certain in advance of the 
experience to which it applies is of this purely analytic and 
definitive sort, then we might be led to remark that such abstract 
a priori truth tells us nothing of the nature of reality beyond our 
own minds, and is significant only of our own consistency of 
thought. This conclusion would be a mistaken one; paradoxical 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 47 

as it may sound, we can predict the nature of reality without 
prescribing the character of future experience. What the mind 
meets in experience is not independent reality, but an independent 
given; the given is not, without further ado, the real, but contains 
all the content of dream, illusion, and deceitful appearance. 

In fact, the criteria of reality represent a peculiarly illu- 
minating example of the a priori. The word "real" has a meaning, 
and represents a definite conception which, when applied to the 
content of experience, leads to the interpretation of this content 
sometimes as "real," sometimes as "unreal." The formulation 
of the criteria of the real constitutes a merely analytic or defini- 
tive statement, representing our interpretative attitude. Such 
criteria of reality can neither be supplied by experience (since 
direct generalization from an unsorted experience, not already 
classified as real, would not serve) nor can experience invalidate 
them. Whatever in experience does not conform to the criteria 
of reality is automatically thrown out of court. 

We can and must prescribe the nature of reality. We cannot 
prescribe the nature of the given. The paradox of this is miti- 
gated somewhat when we observe that the word "real" is syste- 
matically ambiguous. "Reality" is of different sorts, physical, 
mental, mathematical the easily named categories do not cover 
the easily recognized distinctions. A mirror-image, for example, 
is its own particular kind of reality, neither "physical" nor 
"mental," as is also a mirage and "appearances" in general. 
Each category of reality has its own peculiar criteria, and what 
is unreal in one sense will be real in some other. Any content 
of given experience will be real in some category or other 
will be that kind of reality which is ascribed to it when it is 
"correctly understood." The categories are neither a Procrustean 
bed into which experience is thrust nor concepts whose applic- 
ability depends on some pre-established harmony between the 
given and the mind. Rather they are like the reference system 
which the mathematician stretches through all space and with 
respect to which whatever positions and motions are there to 
be described will inevitably be describable. Categorial criteria 
are neither insignificant and verbal tautologies nor empirical 



48 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

prophecies, but exhibit definitive criteria of intelligent classi- 
fication and interpretation. 

The content of a properly conceived metaphysics is the ana- 
lytic truths which exhibit the fundamental criteria and major 
classifications of the real; it is definitive of "real"-ity, not de- 
scriptive of the universe in extenso. In fact, all philosophy has for 
its task such analytic depiction of the a priori to define the 
good, the right, the true, the valid, and the real. 

It will be evident that the absoluteness of such a priori 
principles, whenever and wherever they are held, is entirely 
compatible with their historical alteration, just as modes of 
classification or alternative reference systems, expressible in defini- 
tive principles or initial prescriptions, would be absolute while 
adhered to, but might be subject to considerations of usefulness 
and to historical change. The assurance of perpetuity for our 
categories is no greater than the assurance that our basic human* 
nature and the broad outlines of experience will never alter. 
There is an eternal truth about our abstract concepts the given 
is absolute datum; but the chosen conceptual systems applied 
to the interpretation of the given are subject to possible change. 
In the field of metaphysical concepts particularly, such change 
would seem to be a fact as the history of such concepts % as 
"matter/' "mind/' and "cause/' bears witness. 

The categories differ in no wise from concepts in general except 
in degree of comprehensiveness and fundamental character. 
Every concept whatever exhibits criteria of its own little kind 
of reality. In so far as experience is intelligible and expressible 
only when grasped in some framework of conceptual interpreta- 
tion, this a priori element of the definitive is all-pervasive. 

It is the conceptual order of experience alone which is com- 
municable or expressible. The given, apart from such conceptual 
interpretation, is ineffable. If, so to speak, one sensory quality 
could be lifted out of the network of relations in which it stands 
and replaced by another, the aesthetic character of experience 
might be altered, but everything which has to do with knowledge 
and with action would remain precisely as before. Community of 
thought and knowledge requires community of concept or of 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 49 

relational pattern, but if there should be idiosyncrasies of sense 
which do not affect discrimination and relation, these would be 
immaterial to our common understanding and co-operation. In 
fact, in the face of all those verifiable differences of sense which 
are evidenced by our different powers of discrimination, we 
possess a common understanding and a common reality through 
the social achievement of common categories and concepts. 
When the vast and impressive institution of human education 
in its wider sense is remarked, the assumption that such com- 
munity is simply native or ready-made is seen to be superfluous. 
My world is my intellectual achievement ; our common world, a 
social one. The frequent objection of the sceptic, that knowledge 
is implausible in view of the subjectivity of sense, is an ignoratio 
elenchi. 

Knowledge grasps conceptual structure or order alone. It was 
Berkeley who, almost without noting it himself, first phrased this 
nature of our knowledge. One idea is "sign of" another in the 
order of nature. If it be a reliable sign that is, if it bear con- 
stant and orderly relationships one empirical quale is as good 
as another to serve this function of cognition. Knowledge of the 
external world consists of relations between one item of experi- 
ence and another, not in the content of experience somehow 
matching the quality of an external real. Such qualitative coinci- 
dence of idea and object if the notion means anything would 
be extraneous to knowledge. This conclusion is quite independent 
of idealism. 

There are not two kinds oi knowledge; one of principles or 
relations, expressible in propositions, and another which we have 
by mere presentation of the object. The conceptual interpretation 
of the given is the implicit prediction of other possible experi- 
ence. As Mr. Whitehead has pointed out, no object can be known 
without reference to some temporal spread. My knowledge of 
the object is not the mere having of this presentation, but the 
implicit prediction of the cventuation of other experience con- 
tinuous with this. What is thus predicted is not at the moment 
verified, but it must be verifiable if the interpretative concept is 
veridically applicable. The mere naming of this thing I see as 
VOL. II D 



50 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

"desk" predicts eventualities of a specific sort, which, if they 
should fail to be realized, would lead to the repudiation of the 
concept "desk 11 (or perhaps even of "physical reality ") as in- 
applicable to this which I see. The knowledge of any object 
transcends its given presentation and grasps a structure of 
experience. Without order, there can be no thing, no experience 
of reality. This, in brief, is the deduction of the categories. 

That if this be a desk, it will be thus and so, is an analytic 
consequence of the concept "desk," not subject to any falsifica- 
tion by experience. That any given "this" is really a desk, is 
theoretically not completely certain. Thus there is an a priori 
element which is all-pervasive in knowledge and prescriptive 
of reality. Yet all empirical truth, without exception, is probable 
only. 

One further note I should like to make in closing. As the word 
"knowledge" has been used above, it is narrowed somewhat 
from its usual meaning. It comprises what have sometimes been 
called the "truths of description 1 ' which, as it is here conceived, 
depend exclusively upon conceptual order. It excludes "truths 
of appreciation/' the aesthetic quality of the given, and all that 
depends upon sympathy and upon that communion of minds 
which requires coincidence of immediate experience. Evaluation 
can hardly be indifferent to the quality of the given. Nor can 
the basis of ethics be laid without reference to the felt character 
of experience in another mind. And the religious sense, if it is 
to take reality as the matrix of human values, will likewise 
transcend the interests of knowledge in this restricted sense. 
There is, then, a line of division between such interests and 
cognition of the type of science. And it is suggested that the 
foundation of these, not being found in knowledge alone, may 
rest upon some postulate. 



CLARENCE IRVING LEWIS 51 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

A Survey of Symbolic Logic. (Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 

1918.) 
The Pragmatic Element in Knowledge (The Howison Lecture, 1926). 

(Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1926.) 
Mind and the World-Order. (Scribners, New York, 1929.) 



PROBLEMATIC REALISM 



By J. LOEWENBERG 

Born 1882; Professor of Philosophy, University of California, 
Berkeley, California. 



PROBLEMATIC REALISM 

PHILOSOPHICAL labels are necessary evils. How get on without 
them? How distinguish one doctrine from another? But there 
are two kinds of labels. Lazy labels the felicitous expression is 
Professor Palmer's are those which we affix to beliefs not our 
own: they are inert names for endlessly variable shades of 
opinion. Such naming is simply pigeon-holing. It is a facile way of 
lumping together under a single rubric incomparable visions and 
theories. Philosophers not unjustly resent having their doctrines 
so indolently amalgamated from without. Witness, for instance, 
the notorious disavowal by modern idealists of the epithet 
"Hegelian." The names under which we epitomize our own 
philosophies we take more seriously. They are creative labels. 
They are scrupulously designed to convey what is indigenous 
and characteristic. They are part and parcel of the creative 
activity to the products of which they are attached. 

The label by which I here designate my own philosophic 
beliefs must be understood as intimately bound up with them. 
It has been chosen with care to express a fresh variation of an 
ancient doctrine. Realism is certainly venerable; and even those 
who qualify it as "new" are not ignorant of its antiquity. 
Realism was not born with "New Realism. " The adjective 
"new" is here either pretentious or factitious. Its usurpation by 
a particular version of realism is to be deplored and resented. 
Novelty is a feature belonging to every genuine variant of a 
general theme. 

The variation of realism which I label "problematic" shares 
with the variations distinguished by other names a central theme. 
What is the common thread that runs through the manifold 
forms of realism? To this question there is unfortunately no 
unambiguous answer. But when technical guises are laid aside 
all realism appears to consist in the conviction that reality is 
prior to the knowledge of it, and that consequently mind has a 
status which is derivative and not pivotal. It is misleading, I 
think, to state the case for realism by saying that reality is 
independent of being known, Why is reality independent of the 



56 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

cognitive relation? Is it because the cognitive relation is a 
relation or because it is cognitive! And what is independence? 
Independence is either too equivocal or too uncompromising a 
term through which to express the cardinal principle of realism. 
Every philosophy, to be philosophy at all, must rest on the 
supposition that between being and knowing there is some 
linkage. What distinguishes realism from other views is not 
insulation but emancipation of being from knowing. What is 
insulated is isolated and thus disconnected ; what is emancipated 
is merely liberated, but not deprived of relation. Not in extruding 
from reality all relations consists the work of realism, but rather 
in investing it in respect to knowledge with a particular kind of 
relation, the relation of priority. 

I share, then, the general view common to all forms of realism 
namely, that reality is prior to knowledge, and hence to mind, if 
knowledge is impossible in the absence of mind. But what are we 
to understand by reality? And what by knowledge? To these 
two questions surely second to few in philosophic importance 
my version of realism hazards an answer. 

I hold, for various reasons soon to be mentioned, that reality 
is a substantive qualifiable by human knowledge as problematic, 
if the qualification is to be regarded as final. In other words, the 
only adjective ultimately descriptive of reality is the adjective 
problematic. To this belief big with implications I have come 
by different routes. It is, of course, not possible to retrace them 
here in detail. I can only indicate a few salient landmarks. 

One route leading me to Problematic Realism lies in following 
the ontological consequences of scientific methodology. Scientific 
knowledge is surely knowledge of the real, and the only kind 
of knowledge which is controlled by rigorous methods of observa- 
tion and experiment. Hence the solidity and solidarity of scientific 
achievements. The results of scientific investigation are public, 
attained though they are through the toil or genius of individual 
men. It is hardly worth mentioning that no fact is a scientific 
fact, even though but one individual may claim the glory of 
having observed it for the first time, if it is inaccessible to 
observation by other individuals competent to observe it. And 



J. LOEWENBERG 57 

similarly no inference about the nature of things is valid, however 
justified in the light of numerous and meticulous observations, 
if it is contradicted by later discoveries of fresh and relevant 
data. Scientific observations and generalizations are seemingly 
handicapped by the very qualities to which they owe social 
prestige and logical exactitude. For if all that in science is certain 
is the result of actual verification, and if all that in science is 
established is modifiable through discovery of facts as yet 
unfathomed, then the limits of science limits variable and 
extensible are the limits of verification and discovery. As long 
as the need for verification is perennial, and as long as the 
unknown regions of fact are still undiscovered, an ineradicable 
scepticism must always cleave to the work of science. The method 
of science seems to be a method either of allaying or of confirming 
ubiquitous suspicion suspicion that what for the nonce is 
certain and established may require revision and reconstruction. 
And the instruments through which such suspicion is either 
weakened or fostered are endless verification and indefatigable 
discovery. It would, however, be wrong to conclude that scientific 
suspicion which engenders the twin demands for insatiable 
verification and discovery involves merely scepticism of meta- 
physics. Science is indeed radically opposed to metaphysics, in 
so far as the latter is charged with the office of furnishing a descrip- 
tion of the universe so final that further verification becomes 
otiose and further discovery negligible. Finality of this sort 
is obviously incompatible with the spirit and method of science. 
Yet metaphysical finality of another kind is clearly involved 
in the enterprise of science. The view that reality is such as 
to suffer no judgment concerning its nature to stay continual 
verification and discovery is itself a final view. I call this view, 
not scepticism of metaphysics, but metaphysics of scepticism. 
Suspicion of finality, one of the most characteristic traits of 
science, is born of the ontological insight that reality is full of 
surds surds that pale the brilliance of all scientific achievements. 
In the last analysis, it is the metaphysical conception of the 
universe as the inexhaustible source of problems which forbids 
scientific assertions the enjoyment of security and completeness. 



58 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Another route towards Problematic Realism proceeds from the 
very idea of the "ultimate/' which science is said to shun and 
which metaphysics is supposed to court. What are we to under- 
stand by the ultimate, a notion so very vague yet so much in 
vogue? It is ordinarily used with reckless inattention to the 
conflicting meanings it harbours. I find it employed as a synonym 
for notions bewildering in number and variety. Here are some 
of its equivalents the absolute, the unconditioned, the inex- 
plicable, the indescribable, the indefinable, the indiscernible, the 
fundamental, the basic, the primary, the final, the indubitable, 
the irreducible. Are these terms on a parity? Are they really 
synonymous? Apart from the obscurity of it, due to too much 
opulence of meaning, the ultimate as commonly employed 
suffers from incurable stiffness or rigidity. It is a state or con- 
dition or act or category so inelastic that any stretching or 
straining beyond it is assumed to be for ever precluded. And of 
the ultimate as something "unstretchable" philosophers are 
supposed to be the traditional champions and custodians. But 
there are two ways of regarding anything as unmalleable. The 
being or constitution of the thing itself may be such as to prevent 
stretching, and if so, then it is what I call ontologically ultimate; 
or it may be inflexible simply for our thought, in the sense that 
it defies further reduction or analysis or definition, in which case 
it is what I designate as cognitively ultimate. In metaphysics, 
all sorts of things have paraded as ultimate, either because 
of their own irrefragable nature or because of our inability to 
stretch our imagination beyond them. Atoms, monads, essences, 
events, space-time, experience need I mention other "unstretch- 
ables"? have been proclaimed by different philosophers as 
the irresilient constituents of being or the unbreakable terms of 
thought. Unfortunately, what in one system of metaphysics is 
viewed as ontologically or cognitively tenacious is in another 
considered constitutively or logically brittle. From system to 
system the ultimate changes its content. This is manifestly an 
intolerable situation. It can be relieved only by the recognition 
of what I venture to call the elastic ultimate. 

The elasticity of the ultimate is certainly demanded by the 



J. LOEWENBERG 59 

scientific method. Every science is able to reach something 
"unstretchable," when it pushes analysis as far as it will go, and 
when its inferences are such as to withstand the tests of consistent 
thought. Within the limits of human observation and generaliza- 
tion science is competent to traffic in things and ideas relatively 
irresilient; the accumulated evidence is for the time being so 
overwhelming in their favour that, if there is to be any science 
at all, no doubt can be entertained as to their present right to 
claim finality. But the state of the "unstretchables" in any 
particular science is a limiting state; if and when we have in 
any given science reached the limits of observation and inference 
we have reached what is inelastic pro tempore. The element of 
suspicion, such an essential part of the scientific method, casts 
its shadow upon everything. There is no guarantee that what 
now appears irrefragable will enjoy this privilege in perpetuity. 
The absolute to-day may become relative to-morrow. What at 
present is rigid and fixed may in the future, through continual 
analysis and experiment, exhibit astonishing plasticity. It must 
thus be said that science both vindicates and repudiates the 
ultimate it needs it as an elastic concept, but it shuns it as 
something inherently unstretchable. The elastic ultimate, as 
furnished by science, is a singular instance of what I mean by 
the real which is problematic and the problematic which is real. 
For such an ultimate is describable by the two adjectives 
simultaneously and interchangeably: it is real, since it represents 
the actual limit of scientific verification and discovery; and it is 
problematic, since a later limiting state of observation and 
inference may render precarious the "ultimates" now in force. 
That the ultimate is but ultimate in transitu that it has movable 
boundaries in the extension of which science is continually 
engaged is indeed a powerful argument in favour of Problematic 
Realism. 

Another way pointing in its direction lies in considering what is 
meant by the "given." What are we to understand by a concept 
doing such yeoman's service for science and philosophy? It is 
certainly a fundamental term, but is it unequivocal? I find the 
"given" as bewildering a notion as the notion of the "ultimate." 



60 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

And here, too, we may profit by discerning the elastic from the 
inelastic uses of it. For the given may mean either that with 
which inquiry starts or that in which it terminates. It is important 
to render distinct these two meanings by giving them separate 
names. Accordingly, by "pre-analytical" I designate whatever 
functions as a source of analysis, and by "post-analytical' ' 
whatever is discovered as the limit of analysis. It is manifestly 
bootless to appeal to the given unless we distinguish in the most 
explicit manner between what is given for analysis and what is 
given through analysis. By a strange equivocation the given, with- 
out forfeiting the sense of something "primitive," is in philosophy 
frequently identified, not with that from which the investigation 
takes its start, but with the simple constituents to which the 
investigated object may by analysis be reduced. Givenness, in short, 
is viewed as belonging to post-analytical entities and relations, 
those at which analysis is obliged to halt, rather than to a prc- 
analytical situation inaugurating and prompting analysis. No 
such equivocation can be laid at the door of science. All scientific 
data are pre-analytical: they are literally points of departure, 
initial states or stages in any investigation. The given in science 
signifies any fact, event, situation, or circumstance capable of 
enticing inquiry and eliciting the operation of the scientific 
method. Thus democratic and accommodating is the scientific 
use of the given. Furthermore, if we distinguish between the object 
demanding description and the terms employed in describing 
it, the scientific datum signifies not that by which it is described, 
but rather that to which scientific description addresses itself. 
When a more adequate study of any "given situation 11 necessitates 
a different description of it, what happens is that we simply 
exchange one set of terms for another; the datum, however 
fluctuating the descriptive terms, is the same original situation 
at the behest of which the descriptive process is set in motion. 
It follows that the scientific datum, connoting for the most part 
something supple and provisional, coincides essentially with 
what we ordinarily mean by a "problem/* The given from which 
scientific inquiry takes its start is neither an unquestioned fact 
nor the indubitable knowledge of it. As a whole or as an incident 



J. LOEWENBERG 61 

in a wider context, the given is for science a continual challenge, 
always remaining "pre-analytical," in the sense of never con- 
demning as superfluous the task of more searching analysis. 

What a contrast is the philosophic use of the given! The 
given, as, for instance, it figures in epistemology, is never a rela- 
tive starting-point of analysis, but rather its absolute halting- 
place. The given in which analysis terminates is the termination 
of the analytical process itself. Although disclosed by the solvent 
work of analysis, the given once revealed is that which compels 
analysis to draw its last breath. For the given is ultimate, and 
the ultimate is in philosophy the unstretchable. Post-analytical 
data, unlike their pre-analytical cousins, are thus essentially 
aristocratic: they are privileged beings of an exclusive order. 
The data, which in epistemology the discerning work of critical 
analysis brings to light, are alleged to enjoy peerless predicates, 
such as "pure," "irreducible/' "original/* "immediate/' "indu- 
bitable." These evidently are not the tokens of our plebeian 
objects of perception. It thus follows that the given, standing 
as it does for a restricted and favoured class of beings, designates 
the elements to which our complex objects may be reduced and 
not the reducible complexes themselves. The hard and inflexible 
terms, those resisting the stoutest assault of analysis, these alone 
are regarded as the legitimate and strait-laced data. And if this is 
the case, such post-analytical terms, incapable as they are of 
being reduced to anything more elementary or more primitive, 
partake of the nature of "solutions." There is supposedly nothing 
problematic about epistemological data. Repelling the need of 
further analysis, they have a finality which can obviously not 
belong to scientific data. 

And yet, despite the contrast between pre-analytical and post- 
analytical data, is it not apparent that epistemological data are 
scientific in disguise? The signification of a datum as a "starting- 
point" is never lost sight of in epistemology. In the beginning is 
the given. This is a maxim for every discipline; but whereas in 
science the given is an initial state by which knowledge is carried 
forward, in epistemology the given is a primary state to which 
analysis carries us backward. Back of our knowledge of objects 



62 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

and the objects of our knowledge lies something aboriginal, 
and to this the tortuous work of epistemological analysis 
endeavours to return. The epistemological anomaly resides in 
the demand that the given be at once something "initial" and 
"terminal" the Alpha and Omega of knowledge. It is endowed 
with precedence, sometimes genetic and sometimes evidential, 
but it is a precedence which coincides with the end of analysis. 
But how can we be sure whether the limits of analysis are not 
spurious limits, due simply to our present impotence to discern? 
Can epistemology, unlike any other science, evade the concep- 
tion of elastic finality? Besides, the faith in the revelations of 
unstretchable data by rigorous analysis or pure intuition (and 
pure intuition is itself an analytical product, in the sense that 
neither its enjoyment nor its definition is possible without a 
process of abstraction or insulation from the mixed and impure 
states of ordinary knowledge) is a faith bound up with too simple 
a view of judgment and of truth. This, however, will occupy us 
later. 

I have allotted so much space to a consideration of the "given" 
because the central thesis of Problematic Realism may by means 
of it be stated most succinctly. Is the real given, and is the given 
real? At first blush the question seems meaningless. With both 
of its terms so equivocal (the ambiguity of the "real" will be 
mentioned anon), how can the suggested equation be hazarded? 
Nevertheless we cannot avoid linking each to each the "real" 
and the "given," for to sever them is to leave both concepts naked 
of all possible meaning. For me the real is indeed the given, and 
given in both senses of this misused term. But the two senses of 
the given signify for me different aspects of a more fundamental 
notion namely, the notion of the problematic. Accordingly, 
I state the equation thus: the real = the given and the given 
= the problematic. From one point of view, the real is a pre- 
analytical datum, as it figures in any scientific investigation, 
and as such it is problematic at both ends of the investigational 
scale. At one end the real is a problem productive of scientific 
inquiry, and at the other it is a problem which scientific inquiry 
itself produces: it is the real as ultimately described or explained, 



J. LOEWENBERG 63 

but in terms whose ultimacy is elastic in the light of progressive 
verification and discovery. From another point of view, the real is 
a post-analytical datum, such as it emerges on the highest or 
deepest reaches of philosophical discernment, and there its 
problematic character has a double face rather than a dual 
direction. Is the post-analytical datum a pure what, or is it a 
pure thatl If it is a pure character or quality and this seems 
to be the prevailing opinion what is the that to which it is 
attached? For those who cannot envisage the possibility of 
"floating adjectives/' such a datum is problematic with respect 
to the substantive it qualifies or characterizes. If it is a pure 
substantival entity and as such it appears to me to be disclosed 
by analysis what are its true predicates or attributes? I, for 
one, cannot readily dissolve the union of the what and the that. 
I can conceive neither of unanchored qualities nor of unqualitied 
(though, indeed, of unqualified or unqualifiable) substances. The 
post-analytical datum, the result of final analysis, has to be 
conceived either as a quality belonging to an unknown substantive 
or as a substantive of which the true description is uncertain. 
In either case the datum is problematic. For my own part I 
find nowhere in my experience anything corresponding to either 
abstraction. I have never encountered either loose qualities or 
characterless entities. Yet, if I take any concrete experience and 
remove by abstraction all that I can possibly detach from it, 
what remains is an indeterminate this or that. I find it quite 
possible to disengage by analysis the that from the what, but I 
cannot perform the opposite operation and take away the that 
from the what. The appeal to experience is here unavailing; 
never are bare qualities and unqualitied entities "given/ 1 if given 
be understood as "presented/* they are "taken" by an act of 
difficult abstraction from a concrete situation in which they are 
always found together. 

The analysis of concrete experience, when it culminates in 
the priority of the that over the what, brings us face to face with 
the notion of substance. Substance is indeed the absolute surd of 
all awareness and all analysis. I am not unmindful of the many 
meanings which the idea of substance connotes. I am using it 



64 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

here not as category or as thing. As category, its use is logical or 
formal, indistinguishable from that of the grammatical subject. 
As thing, its use is empirical or material, applicable to every 
cohesion of qualities and relations that exhibits relative individu- 
ality and permanency. What I here mean by substance is meta- 
physical self-existence. It is a name for the reality underlying 
whatever we encounter in concrete experience. It is the absolute 
ground of things, the nethermost root of them. It is that than 
which there is nothing deeper. Existing upon its own terms, it 
is the fertile source of all that appears. It asserts itself in all 
things, and can be known only through its 'manifestations, none 
of which, however, can define or exhaust it. What is its intrinsic 
nature? This is the perplexing question perennially present in 
every science and in every philosophy. The "ontological argu- 
ment/ 1 in its traditional employment, has distorted a genuine 
problem by placing the cart before the horse. Taking for granted 
God's essence, partisans of this argument have by tortuous 
devices sought to demonstrate his existence. The problem lies in 
the opposite direction. It is easy enough to grant God's being, 
if God is (as in the case of Spinoza) but another name for substance 
or self-existence ; but what save a verbal definition assures me of 
his nature ? His essence (his what) is infinitely more problematic 
than his being (his that). I am ready, indeed, to accept as specula- 
tively plausible all the "proofs" of God's existence, but who can 
tell me whether God is actually good and wise and powerful? 
The mystics are less perverse. Sure as they are of God's being, they 
consistently refuse to define his attributes. Theirs is the only 
proof entitled to be called ontological, since the assurance it 
vouchsafes is confined to the bare affirmation that "God is." 
The attempt to describe his intrinsic nature, they rightly hold, 
is enmeshed in snares and illusions. How extremes meet! The 
logic of mysticism I am, of course, not speaking of its psychology 
is the logic of modern science. It is the logic of what I have 
called the metaphysics of scepticism involved in scientific 
methodology. Science, too, is infinitely more certain of the being 
of things than it is of their inner nature. The ' 'given* ' in science 
the incipient occasion or generating condition of inquiry 



J. LOEWENBERG 65 

has being as a matter of course, for the question what the datum 
is, the question with which scientific description is primarily 
concerned, presupposes the presence of that which provokes the 
question. It is not the being of the datum which is ever doubtful, 
but the manner of its being, the circumstances under which it 
appears, the specific characters and qualities it owns, the detailed 
affinities to other appearances it enjoys. In short, science is 
description, and description means adjectival qualification of an 
antecedently present substantive. And since adjectival qualifica- 
tion of any scientific substantive can possess elastic ultimacy 
only, owing to the extensible character of verification and the 
ubiquitous possibility of discovery, the scientific object, though 
never surrendering its substantival status, has but a temporary 
title to the adjectives assigned to it. Scientific methodology is 
thus always dealing with indubitable substantives that are 
adjectivally problematic. Since this is true of all the sciences, 
the ontology common to them may therefore be described in 
terms of substance. All science presupposes the self-existent 
whose manifestations it notes; and since the manifestations of 
substance are relative to ceaseless discovery and the noting of 
them subject to endless verification, "scientific" description can 
never disown its problematic character. And is it otherwise 
with descriptions called "metaphysical"? Metaphysical systems, 
too, if Aristotle is right, are "sciences"; they are no less intent 
upon describing the essential attributes of being, limiting or 
qualifying by preferential adjectives an antecedently existing 
substance. It is the "same" substantive reality which in all the 
competing systems of metaphysics is subject to divergent descrip- 
tions. And what do these rival descriptions indicate save the 
priority of the that over the what ? Of the substantival status of 
reality we are much surer than we are of its adjectival nature; 
this holds in the case of metaphysics as much as it does in that 
of physics. The possibility (sufficiently attested by the perennial 
strife of metaphysics) of ascribing to the same "world" or "uni- 
verse" emulous predicates, all reeking with ultimacy, may justify 
two different positions. We may move in the direction of 
mysticism, refusing altogether to describe reality, on the ground of 

VOL. II E 



66 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

its being intrinsically unqualitied and hence unqualifiable. Or we 

may move in the direction of realism, describing the inner nature 

of things as problematic, on the ground that substance is so richly 

qualitied as to license the multiform qualifications of it by the 

different metaphysical systems. Any escape from Problematic 

Realism by a way other than the mystic seems to me to culminate 

in anthropomorphism, for what else than anthropomorphic is the 

identification of the inherently qualitied read with the preferential 

qualifications of it such as are embodied in the sundry systems of 

human judgments? 

For the view that reality is always manifest substantially 
but never adjectivally and this is the essence of Problematic 
Realism I find confirmation in the nature of judgment itself. 
What is judgment ? No question is more crucial. For it is judgment 
which renders explicit by its work of predication the adjectival 
nature of reality, and it is judgment to which alone the distinc- 
tion between the true and the false appears to be relevant. 
Judgment thus communicates at once with reality and with 
truth, being a sort of hyphen between them, separating and join- 
ing at the same time. A thing so fundamental the vehicle of 
truth in pursuit of reality must obviously be purged of its 
wonted confusion. The confusion from which judgment ordinarily 
suffers is due to the neglect of its manifold nature. Judgment is 
too commonly identified with only a fragment of its essence. I 
find judgment to be a composite term. Any judgment the 
simple perceptual judgment that "this flower is red" may serve 
as illustration is the expression of a man's belief] it is the 
discursive statement of such belief; it is what awareness prompts a 
man to believe and to assert that he believes; and it is a description 
of a real object or situation occasioning the awareness in question. 
These four aspects of judgment the personal, the formal, the 
noetic, the material I find distinguishable, but not separable. 
They are all present whenever any significant judgment is 
present. 

This complex or composite nature of judgment, which in 
traditional theories tends to be violated either by the suppres- 
sion or exaggeration of one or another of its aspects, is the source 



J. GLOEWENBER 67 

of two major paradoxes. (I shall briefly mention them and show 
how each points in the direction of Problematic Realism.) One 
paradox the "ontological," as I may call it centres around the 
so-called "existential" or "objective" reference of judgment. 
Reference is, of course, an indicative relation, but judgment, 
endowing whatever it indicates with a determinate nature, 
transforms ineluctably by its work of predication the act of 
reference into an act of description. In other words, the only 
mode of reference to its object which judgment can establish 
is by describing it, i.e. by asserting what it is. The objective 
reference of judgment and the description of the object by judg- 
ment are identical acts. And if this is so, the situation is indeed 
paradoxical: the object referred to by judgment is whatever 
judgment itself succeeds in describing. The absolute fusion of 
the referential and descriptive acts on the part of the judging 
process inevitably leads to the confusion of different ontological 
levels, as if the referred real and the described real, distinguishable 
by analysis, could ever be made to coincide: the referred real is 
the subject of characterization, the described real is the charac- 
terized object. The referred real is simply that boundless ontological 
realm to which we give the compendious name of "being." In this 
realm room is provided for everything imaginable or mentionable. 
Prior to the specifying work of judgment nothing is lacking in 
being; even "nothing," as a logical conception or as a term in 
discourse, has an ontological status. It is to the labour of attri- 
bution wrought by judgment that we owe the distinction within 
the sphere of being between one mode of being and another. While 
it is possible with the aid of specific attributes to distinguish 
the existent from the non-existent and the real from the unreal, 
it is not possible to refer to anything not rejoicing in being. 
The reference of judgment is never "existential"; it is merely 
"ontological." Existence, connoting as it does a determinate 
region within the area of being, has such determinations as judg- 
ment by its act of description ascribes to it. The nerve of the 
.ontological paradox of judgment lies in the irremediable fact that 
its reference is identical with description, yet that to which it 
Defers must be differentiated from what it describes. What judg- 



68 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

ment describes is some aspect or mode of being as disclosed in 
awareness. And since awareness may be of the unreal and the 
non-existent, what is "given" in awareness, never problematic 
as regards its being, is always problematic as regards its reality 
or existence, until judgment has determined by valid description 
its intrinsic qualities and relations. Judgment, therefore, when its 
composite nature is acknowledged and not mutilated, furnishes 
another road towards Problematic Realism. Judgment is always 
a mind's expression of a belief in simultaneous commerce with 
the two dimensions of "knowing" and "being." In so far as its 
noetic aspect can by analysis be detached from its material 
aspect, judgment simply refers to what a mind is aware of. 
And what it is aware of is something indubitable substantially 
but problematic adjectivally. It is judgment, on its material 
side, which by its work of predication determines whether 
anything rejoicing in being is included also in the more restricted 
areas of reality and existence; but whether judgment's description 
of being corresponds with its intrinsic or qualitied nature involves 
the question how far we can validate judgment's claim to "truth." 
This leads me to the second paradox with which judgment is 
burdened namely, the "epistemological." This paradox resides 
in the fact that truth has a four-fold root. If truth is a property 
of judgment, it is a property of its four aspects; and truth is 
equally anomalous whether it is the property of the ingredients 
of judgment taken separately or jointly. If truth belongs to the 
components of judgment distributively, we have four kinds of 
truth; and if it belongs to them collectively, we may secure the 
unity of truth, but only through an arbitrary fiat that one com- 
ponent exercises control over the rest. If by analysis we isolate 
the four elements which together belong to the meaning of 
judgment, we may readily construct a different theory of truth 
appropriate to each of them, (i) Detaching belief as the primary 
element of judgment, the truth of it may be called adverbial, 
if the meaning of belief lies, not in its verbal assertion, but in its 
practical enactment, and if any distinction can be established 
between successfully and unpropitiously enacted beliefs. That 
belief, the enactment of which is functionally efficacious, is 



J. LOEWENBERG 69 

truly efficacious. The emphasis upon the adverb "truly" as 
fundamental seems distinctive of pragmatism. And since the 
adverb always expresses a way of acting, successful or satisfactory 
practice is obviously the standard to which adverbial truth must 
conform. (2) If we identify judgment with the formal expression 
of it, truth acquires a purely logical status. Truth is then pre- 
eminently a noun or substantive. It is a name for a self-generated 
concordance of propositions divorced from their psychological 
origin and actual application. Truth, consisting in agreement of 
discourse with itself, when discourse is carried on in accordance 
with certain rules laid down and recognized as coercive by dis- 
course itself, may be called substantival: it is an independent 
"body" or "system" of pure propositions. And substantival 
truth, being a structure of harmonious discourse, is manifestly 
subject to the standard of consistency or coherence. (3) The 
definition of judgment as the exhibition in discursive dress of an 
act or state of awareness leads to the notion of truth as adjectival : 
"trueness" is an inexpungible quality of awareness itself, and 
may thus vicariously be attached to the judgment, if judgment 
is nothing but a case of awareness given articulate expression. 
My judgment can never be false if what it expresses is merely 
what I am aware of. The test of adjectival truth accordingly is 
the test of awareness itself. And what is this test but immediacy ? 
Whatever I am immediately aware of is true, if I am immediately 
aware of it. (4) If judgment is primarily a description of something 
real or existential, truth is material that is, truth is about that 
which somehow transcends belief and discourse and awareness. 
Neither the judgment as description nor the described "some- 
thing" is true by itself; true is the relation between them. Material 
truth is a form-matter truth; truth resides in the link between 
the two and not apart from either of them. We may call this 
truth bi-prepositional, since it is the truth of the real and by 
discourse, or we may speak of it as hyphenated, since truth here 
is a span or bridge between the world of discourse and the world 
of things, and the test of such truth is evidently by correspondence 
or agreement between judgment as description and the described 
thing or event transcending it. 



70 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

The mutilation of judgment thus leads to the growth of a 
separate kind of truth from each of its segmented roots. Is truth 
adverbial, substantival, adjectival, or prepositional? And is it 
tested by practice, coherence, immediacy, or correspondence? 
Whatever names we give to them and I do not set store by the 
labels I have chosen these four kinds of truth are as distinguish- 
able as the four aspects of judgment with which they are corre- 
lated. The epistemological paradox is equally irremediable 
whether we regard each truth as a truth sui generis or whether we 
proclaim one as the genus and the remaining three as its species. 
Shall we confer plural sovereignty upon a quadrified truth, or 
absolute sovereignty upon a single overweening type holding in 
subjection whatever other truths may rebelliously assert their 
independence? In the former case, any judgment is in the 
anomalous position of being at once true and false, for it may 
be true substantially (formally or rationally), but false pre- 
positionally (existentially or materially), or true adjectivally 
(intuitively or mystically), and false adverbially (instrumentally 
or pragmatically), and vice versa. In the latter case, to which 
kind of truth shall we accord the place of genus enjoying exclusive 
sovereignty? If truth is the truth of judgment as composite, 
one only of the components being in the privileged position of 
mastery, to which shall we yield the sceptre? If the claim 
to such rule be based upon self-sufficiency and inclusive- 
ness, has one element the advantage over the rest? As a 
matter of fact, each element has the power to annex and 
to control on its own level the other three ingredients of 
judgment. 

The epistemological paradox of judgment, the analysis of 
which leaves us either with four unassimilable kinds of truth or 
with four different ways of assimilating them, affords another 
approach towards Problematic Realism. The truth-paradox is 
the heel of Achilles of human knowledge. Human knowledge 
can be neither true nor false until it passes through the crucible 
of judgment, but judgment has a composite nature with filaments 
stretching out in four different directions. The truth of judgment 
is relative to the way a man believes and thinks and experiences; 



J. LOEWENBERG 71 

and since his ways of believing and thinking and experiencing 
can be distinguished but not separated from the descriptive 
function of judgment, the described real can never be identical 
with the real described. I am forced to the inference that the 
real as judgmentally qualified can never coalesce with the real 
as internally qualitied, which is to say that the inherently adjec- 
tival nature of reality is for human knowledge problematic. The 
truth of our descriptive judgments, if true at all, is a resultant 
of several factors, and some are induced by our responsive 
natures rather than by the nature of reality to which in our 
judgments we seek to respond. 

Judgment for me is thus always the response of a mind to a 
problematic situation. The four constituents of judgment simpty 
represent different levels of response. By truth I mean the 
response on each level conceived as consummated. On all the 
levels truth has thus the same ' 'meaning": it is completely 
successful action or finally coherent discourse or absolutely 
immediate experience or ultimately relevant description. On all 
these levels judgment functions as one and whole, since its 
ingredients are mutually implicative; and its truth, if achieved, 
is simply the "solution" of such "problems" as are encountered 
in action, in thought, in experience, and in science. The truth- 
relation is in the end definable as a relation between a "problem" 
and its "solution." But is the "solution" ever attained? 
Relatively, yes. Our enacted beliefs enjoy the success which a 
dynamic ideal of "work-ability" is able for the nonce to guarantee ; 
our deductive systems of propositions possess such actual 
coherence as the man-made rules of discourse permit; our 
intuitions and visions may achieve completeness and infallibility 
in conformity with the elusive or illusive standard of imme- 
diacy; and our sciences may indeed assume, in the light of 
present verifications and discoveries, that their descriptive 
versions of the real are ultimate, remembering, however, that 
such ultimacy is elastic. The standards in control of man's four- 
fold response embodied in judgment are all "regulative" ideals 
to be striven for, not fixed ends ever attained or attainable. The 
truth-relation, being on all the levels of response a relation between 



72 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

a "problem" and a "solution," must thus be regarded as essentially 
plastic and variable. 

The notion of levels of response, in which the analysis of 
judgment and of truth culminates, enables me to survey "the 
life of reason" from the point of view of incommensurable 
attitudes, to each of which I must assign a relatively autonomous 
character. The German expressions, Weltanschauung and Lebens- 
anschauung, though verbally sonorous, are more or less factitious, 
as if the whole of our tangled world and confused life could be 
focusscd and compressed into a single snapshot. What is there so 
disconcerting about a diversity of incongruous views? It does not 
worry me to look upon the world and life from different stand- 
points, and I do not feel abashed because I cannot combine them 
into a total and absolute perspective. Thus to mention three 
divergent "views" between "anthropomorphism," "solipsism," 
and "cosmomorphism," I do not feel the need of making a 
drastic choice or of uniting them into a "higher synthesis." 
I find them equally relevant and equally important. 

In ethics and logic I am frankly anthropomorphic: I do not 
see how in action and in thought we can ever get out of the human 
skin. What is morally good and formally true for species other 
than the human we can either not assert at all or we must give 
to human postulates a cosmic range. The latter alternative is 
grossly impertinent and constitutes bad anthropomorphism. 
The general will (if there is such a thing) which expresses itself in 
human behaviour and the universal reason which asserts itself 
in human thinking are general and universal only for a particular 
species. To graft human ideals upon cosmic nature is a pathetic 
fallacy. Good anthropomorphism lies in the avoidance of this 
fallacy by giving unto Caesar what is merely Caesar's. If 
nationalism, for instance, is morally good for man, what folly 
to extend it to other animals or to angels! And if coherent 
discourse, whether mathematical or rhetorical, syllogistic or 
dialectical, is logically true for the human understanding, is it 
not likewise absurd to regard it as coercive for beings possessing 
different forms of thought and of speech? It is human action 
alone to which the morally good is relevant ; and logical or formal 



J. LOEWENBERG 73 

validity is pertinent only to human discourse. What I have called 
adverbial truth and substantival truth are both inescapably 
anthropocentric. 

Anthropomorphic as I am in ethics and logic, I am willing to 
be called a solipsist in art and religion. In so far as they are 
embodied in action and discourse, art and religion share, of course, 
in the anthropocentric nature of morality and logic ; and in so far 
as they are held to make manifest, sensuously or pictorially, a 
trans-human world, art and religion arc cognate with the explicitly 
cosmocentric endeavours of science and metaphysics. But when 
I strip away from art and religion those expressive and representa- 
tive features which, being the defining characteristics of other 
modes of response, are but ancillary to them, I am left with 
intimate intuitions and ineffable feelings radiating from the 
inaccessible depths of solitary beings. The original seat of art 
and religion is in the inner recesses of each soul in perfect isolation 
and private "enjoyment/' The inner life with which art and 
religion is primarily concerned is indeed the life of "windowless 
monads." And those who make light of solipsism because it is 
seemingly confined to the life of feeling and dreaming must be 
reminded of death as the most striking instance of it. I know 
that I shall die alone. The experience of dying will be endured by 
me in complete solitude. At that moment of supreme anguish or 
supreme joy the world will collapse for me like a house of cards. 
We shall all be solipsists when the flame of life flickers away from 
us. But dying is no exception. We are no less alone during all 
other moments of intense experience, when, insulated from other 
beings, we revel in our own ego-centric world. Such solitary 
moments come to their fullest fruition in art and religion. And if 
during the absorbing moments of aesthetic enjoyment and religious 
meditation we appear to be selfless, it is because no other selves 
intrude to give rise by contrast-effect to the consciousness of 
separate selfhood. To be absolutely alone is to be free from that 
oppressive loneliness born of social intercourse. Speculative 
mysticism has its raison d'etre in the radical solitariness of all 
feeling: mysticism is emotional individualism distilled into 
philosophical solipsism. And if mystic self -absorption is the 



74 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

distinguishing mark of those experiences commonly called 
aesthetic or religious, the standard of their truth lies in the 
bosom of the self who has these experiences. Here if anywhere 
are comparisons odious. What I have called adjectival truth is 
but a pedantic circumlocution for solipsism. Every judgment 
has an inalienable verity if it is but a record of what a mind 
chances to experience. A fortiori, therefore, each aesthetic or 
religious judgment is indefeasibly true for him whose private 
feelings and intuitions it expresses. The anarchy which prevails 
in the case of the aesthetic and the religious judgments of man- 
kind is thus not to be wondered at: it results from the sincere 
asseverations of idiosyncratic solipsists, one ipsc dixit being as 
infallible as another. 

Such anarchy we find justly intolerable in dealing with judg- 
ments designed to describe "the nature of things/ 1 In science 
and metaphysics we must seek to eschew how far we can succeed 
in this is another question solipsism as well as anthropo- 
morphism. Here our attitude is deliberately cosmocentric ; the 
centricity which on other levels of response belongs to the human 
species or to the single self is in science and metaphysics trans- 
ferred to a wider sphere, to a sphere not coincident with the 
scene of human action and discourse or with the seat of idio- 
syncratic intuitions and feelings. What I call cosmomorphism 
exacts a conscious surrender of those perspectives which enable 
us to define judgment either as belief or as discourse or as aware- 
ness: all these differentiae of judgment tend to magnify the 
importance of the human or individual agent engaged in judging. 
It is only in relation to subjects functioning in certain ways that 
the three varieties of immanent truth pragmatic or adverbial, 
formal or substantival, mystic or adjectival can be rendered 
unexceptionable. But when stress is laid upon the descriptive 
office of judgment the centre of gravity shifts at once from the 
act of judging to the thing judged. A different designation is thus 
needed for the truth of descriptive judgments. Material truth is 
the name commonly given to it. Material truth is transcendent 
truth : it is of something transcending the forms in which we incase 
it under the pressure of anthropocentric and egocentric activities 



J. LOEWENBERG 75 

and experiences. Such truth (in my own terminology) is bi-pre- 
positional, but only one preposition plays here the dominating 
role. All truth is of reality by a mind employing the complex 
vehicle of judgment. But whereas in anthropomorphism and 
solipsism the importance lies in the fact that truth is truth by a 
mind, in cosmomorphism the accent falls on the other preposition, 
and truth is viewed exclusively as truth of the real or existential. 
In the interest of cosmomorphic truth I must be willing to sacrifice 
one preposition in favour of the other. 

It is of the essence of Problematic Realism to recognize at 
once the necessity and the impossibility of such sacrifice. We 
long to be cosmocentric, yet it is a longing that cannot be 
satisfied. The choice of the term "problematic," by which my 
realism is to be distinguished, may now be seen to have a double 
implication. One implication is ontological: in suffering no 
adjectival limitation of being, wrought by judgment, the enjoy- 
ment of absolute certainty, the substantial status of the real 
is made impregnable against anthropomorphism and solipsism. 
The assertion that the adjectival nature of reality is for human 
knowledge problematic involves the most complete avowal of 
cosmomorphism, since it recognizes the disparity between the 
intrinsically qualitied real and the real as humanly qualified. 
The other implication is epistemological: the characterization as 
problematic of the results of our cognitive efforts to lay bare the 
inherently qualitied nature of being follows from the composite 
character of judgment whose cosmocentric direction can be 
distinguished but not separated from its anthropocentric (or 
egocentric) source and origin. In other words, judgments of 
the real, being ineluctably judgments by the mind, are peren- 
nially precarious. The refusal to accept as final the adjectival 
limitation of the real by human judgments and scientific and 
metaphysical judgments are certainly human is complementary 
to the ontological notion of a cosmomorphic substance. These two 
implications of Problematic Realism constitute the quintessence 
of scientific methodology. Scientific methodology, as I have 
shown, requires for its application a cosmomorphic reality, the 
descriptions of which, however ultimate, must remain elastic 



76 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

or problematic, for reasons at once objective and subjective. It is 
this conception of the elastic ultimate which furnishes the basis 
for a new sort of metaphysics the metaphysics^of scepticism. 
Problematic Realism is but another name for this kind of meta- 
physics. As for other brands of metaphysical generalizations 
those that issue in accounts of the nature and structure of the 
universe presumably ultimate in a dogmatic or inelastic sense 
the very divergences between them converge upon Problematic 
Realism. For what are they but the Procrustean translations of 
a cosmomorphic substance, differing from one another in accord- 
ance with the multifarious visions by which speculative minds 
are inspired? Whenever any one of these mighty generalizations 
will have been proved undeniably true not as a national policy 
is pragmatically true, nor as one of the non-Euclidean geometries 
is formally true, nor as the aesthetic contemplation of a sunset 
is mystically true, but true cosmocentrically as a final descrip- 
tion of the intrinsic nature of reality then I shall gladly renounce 
Problematic Realism. 

The salient features of my philosophy, to which I am here for 
the first time attaching a hazardous label, may be found 
elaborated in a number of essays and articles. The chronological 
order of these has determined the form of the present sketch. 
Although still in the making, my philosophy has deviated but 
little from its earliest inceptions and utterances. I find it difficult 
to state at what period in my intellectual development the 
philosophic insight which I now call my own came to light or took 
on definite shape. Various influences have contributed to its 
genesis; and some of these I shall now briefly indicate. 

I confess to an early attachment to Kant's "thing-in-itself." 
I could never make head or tail of transcendentalism without its 
realistic underpinning. The cavalier neglect of Kant's realism by 
those who profess to follow in his epistemological footsteps has 
always seemed to me a scandal. It is the "thing-in-itself" which 
saves experience from being downright autogenous. An unknown 
ground of knowledge, though dialectically a baffling conception, 
is certainly more intelligible than the alternative we are bidden 
to countenance namely, the conception of knowledge as self- 



J. LOEWENBERG 77 

generated or self-grounded. To escape from a cosmomorphic 
reality inaccessible to human knowledge, we are asked to accept 
the absurd apotheosis of anthropocentric sensibility and under- 
standing. The reflection upon the necessity of some "thing-in- 
itself," without which knowledge has to be conceived as producing 
itself as well as its objects, first led me to the view I now designate 
as Problematic Realism. I soon perceived that the "thing-in- 
itself" is but an infelicitous name for substance or self-existence, 
and in that I soon recognized a cosmomorphic bulwark against the 
connivance and idolatry of human passion and logic. 

To Josiah Royce, my first teacher in metaphysics, I owe a 
debt greater than can here be intimated. From him I first learned 
to suspect the "existential predicate'' of being the bull in the 
philosopher's china shop. His Four Conceptions of Being showed 
me that nothing can apparently be characterized as "real" save 
in relation to the truth of this or that metaphysical theory. 
This soon led me to the following dilemma: either the "real" is 
so neutral a term that, prior to the validated truth of a particular 
ontology, it is applicable to anything and everything in which 
case it is meaningless or it is a eulogistic term, restricted by 
metaphysical fiat to favoured entities and relations in which 
case it is useless until the fiat question has established its claim to 
exclusive validity. The reflection upon this dilemma has taught 
me to be wary of a term so strangely equivocal and to use it in 
the manner already proposed. The "real," to be initially free 
from the constraining influence of any special ontology, can 
obviously signify nothing more than the substantive occasion 
of metaphysical inquiry, the adjectival nature of which must 
remain problematic until judgment concerning it attains the 
degree of material truth supposedly inelastic. The "real" and the 
"problematic" thus gradually grew in my mind as inseparable 
as twins. In this direction Royce's examination of the "ontological 
predicate" inevitably led me. His own Idealism or Voluntarism, 
though logically formidable, could never elicit my assent. I could 
never escape the conviction that his massive edifice of dialectical 
construction rested on the parlous foundations of solipsism and 
anthropomorphism. The "internal meaning" of ideas, starting 



78 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the sloping process up to God, to the "external meaning 1 ' of 
absolute or cosmomorphic bulk, could never lose for me its 
taint of idiosyncrasy or humanity. The "purpose" seeking fulfil- 
ment, which is supposed to constitute the "internal" life of 
every "idea," I could not take seriously as being anything else 
than uniquely egocentric or uniformly anthropocentric: purposes 
not analogous to my own solitary strivings or to the collective 
ends embodied in the stratified institutions of human society I 
simply could not fathom. To draw the universe within the orbit 
of "purpose" seemed to me tantamount to a denial of its cosmo- 
centricity. Royce's metaphysics, with which I earnestly wrestled 
with all my might, had the effect of establishing in my own mind 
as fundamental the distinction between reality as substantival 
or cosmocentric and the adjectival limitations of it inspired by 
will-attitudes either incommensurably individual or concurrently 
human. 

My initiation into the mysteries of Hegel's philosophy, which 
played an important part in my intellectual development, I 
owe chiefly to Royce. Left to myself, I should have imbibed the 
hackneyed interpretations of Hegel repeated in a hundred text- 
books. Royce, however, taught me to look for the genius of 
Hegel in the neglected Phenomenology rather than in the exploited 
Logic. The Phenomenology, accordingly, has been one of my 
chief sources of philosophic inspiration. The dialectical method, 
as exhibited in that perverse but great book, strengthened 
immeasurably some of my spontaneous convictions. I soon 
discovered in Hegel's dialectic two distinct strains, one repelling 
and the other attracting me. What I found repellent was the view 
of the dialectic as a mode of rhythmic experience. This strain, 
which I call the histrionic, obliges us to equate the real with the 
totality of "parts," enacted and superseded by an Absolute 
Mind. The universe is thus made to proclaim the glory of a 
versatile genius in whose dramatic will and reason we must find 
the spiritual necessity of all the seemingly irrational gyrations 
in nature and history. The dialectic as a method of tragic experi- 
ence is simply a sinister apology for the spirit of romanticism: 
Truth is lodged in the restless and insatiable mind of a Protean 



J. LOEWENBERG 79 

Absolute. By a strange equivocation Hegel managed to impugn 
the romanticism of the human self while endowing with romantic 
traits his super-human "Subject." More to my liking I found 
the second strain in his dialectic, which I call the comic, because 
it is an impersonal mode of exhibiting the perpetual incongruities 
involved in all human ideas and attitudes. This side of the 
dialectic appealed to me as a weapon for laying siege to every- 
thing dogmatic by rendering its partisan claims logically 
ridiculous. Hegel's dialectical method, though impotent to win 
absolute knowledge, led me to see the absurd consequences that 
inhere in the attempts to lodge absolute truth in anything ego- 
centric or anthropocentric. His Phenomenology thus became for 
me a comedy of errors, a vast playground of human ideas striving 
to be more than human. The impressive panorama of our typical 
attitudes and beliefs, all suffering from the illusion of perspective 
and the blindness of partisanship, taught me to turn Hegel's 
idealism into "its own other": the lesson I learned was to accept 
as absolute a realistically qualitied substance, of which all the 
human qualifications, Hegel's own included, must remain dia- 
lectically vulnerable that is, problematic. 

Fresh impetus in the direction of Problematic Realism I 
received later from Mr. Santayana. His books, the depths of 
which I did not gauge at first, became for me, as I read them over 
and over again, treasure-houses of sanity and wisdom. In melo- 
dious language, free from cant and sophistry, Mr. Santayana 
has richly variegated the only theme that really matters in all 
philosophy: the relation between substantive reality and the 
translations of it in the polygot terms of human reason and 
imagination. His naturalism, viewed as cosmomorphic descrip- 
tion, seemed to me too positive, and his scepticism of existence, 
assumed to follow when knowledge by suspension of judgment 
becomes intuitive or disinterested, too transcendental. But the 
difficulty in understanding the relation between his naturalism 
and scepticism could never obscure the fact for me that for 
Mr. Santayana no identity can be established between the intrinsic 
nature of substance and the symbolic portrayals of it wrought by 
the human (or animal) psyche. Mr. Santayana taught me not 



80 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to confuse the life of reason with the life of substance. The life of 
reason, being essentially egocentric and anthropocentric, being a 
life in which romance and fable are such potent organs, is incom- 
mensurable with the inner nature of what exists in itself, and what 
can only be understood through itself. The understanding of 
substance, beyond the fact that it exists, involves the impossible 
feat of seeing it from its own point of view: a feat as impossible 
for Mr. Sanatayana as apparently it was for Spinoza. Even the 
highest kind of knowledge to which Spinoza appealed even 
the view of the universe sub specie aetemitatis was powerless to 
reveal the specific nature of the infinite attributes belonging 
to substance. And since the indigenous attributes of substance 
(on the assumption that their number is infinite) are unfathomable 
a view which for different reasons Mr. Santayana shares with 
Spinoza the human "circumnavigators of being," to employ 
Mr. Santayana's striking phrase, in fathoming the universe, 
sound their own hearts and minds, and import into cosmic 
nature the illusory limits of their dreams and speculations. 

These dreams and speculations, though no indices to the secret 
operations of substance, are precious as human responses to 
them. The recognition that in framing judgments about the 
cosmos we never leave the human plane does not detract from 
their "truth," if truth is a category pertinent to all the ingredients 
of such judgments. The notion that truth is a category ancillary 
to that of "response" I owe to the pragmatists, but I am reluctant 
to connive at their vernacular, which is either too psychological 
or too biological. I refuse to put my philosophical eggs in the 
basket of a particular science. The pragmatic element in my 
doctrine, which is speculative or dialectical, was inspired more by 
George Simmel than either by William James or by John Dewey. 
From these two great American liberals and liberators I imbibed, 
indeed, the spirit of rebellion against the pretensions of absolutism, 
but a constructive humanism, not enmeshed in exclusively 
psychological or biological terms, I first found in Simmel. The 
books of this subtle thinker played no inconsiderable part in 
shaping my view of "differential" metaphysics. It was perhaps 
through them that I first came to understand the positive 



J. LOEWENBERG 81 

implications in the perennial strife of systems. Metaphysical 
harmony is no more feasible than either religious harmony or 
political harmony. All the "humanities" exhibit incomparable 
responses to the same "problematic" reality, each at once universal 
and particular, unique yet perpetually recurring, like a musical 
theme which is capable of endless variations. Problematic 
Realism, though issuing in what I have called the "metaphysics 
of scepticism," which is nothing more than a speculative extension 
of the "elastic ultimate" involved in all scientific methodology, 
is on its positive side a philosophy of liberalism and tolerance. 
Just because the nature of reality is so everlastingly problematic 
every human effort to sound its depths becomes invested with 
indelible worth. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

"The Metaphysics of Modern Scepticism," Philosophical Review, 

vol. xxxii, 1923. 
"The Metaphysics of Critical Realism," University of California 

Publications in Philosophy, vol. iv, 1923. 
"The Idea of the Ultimate," ibid., vol. v, 1924. 
"Is Metaphysics Descriptive or Normative?" ibid., vol. vii, 1925. 
"The Metaphysical Status of Things and Ideas," ibid., vol. viii, 1926. 
"Pre- Analytical and Post- Analytical Data," Journal of Philosophy, 

vol. xxiv, 1927. 
"Subject and Substance," University of Call forma Publications in 

Philosophy, vol. ix, 1927. 

"The Paradox of Judgment," Journal of Philosophy, vol. xxv, 1928. 
"The Fourfold Root of Truth," University of California Publications 

in Philosophy, vol. x, 1928. 
"The Prepositional Nature of Truth," ibid., vol. xi, 1929. 



VOL. II 



A TEMPORALISTIC REALISM 



By ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 

Born 1873; Professor of Philosophy, The Johns Hopkins University, 

Baltimore. 



A TEMPORALISTIC REALISM 

THE metaphysics of the philosophical teachers whose influence 
was dominant in most of the American universities thirty-five 
years ago had one common and fundamental premise which was 
supposed to be established beyond the possibility of reasonable 
doubt; to question it was simply to betray one's want of a genuine 
initiation into philosophy. It was the proposition that, in Bradley's 
words, "to be real, or even barely to exist, is to fall within sentience ; 
sentient experience, in short, is reality, and what is not this is 
not real. There is no being or fact outside of that which is com- 
monly called psychical existence. " As my first teacher in philo- 
sophy, George Holmes Howison said, in summing up a memorable 
philosophical symposium in 1895: "We are all agreed" in one 
"great tenet," which is "the entire foundation of philosophy 
itself: that explanation of the world which maintains that the 
only thing absolutely real is mind; that all material and all 
temporal existences take their being from Consciousness that 
thinks and experiences; that out of consciousness they all issue, 
to consciousness they are presented, and that presence to con- 
sciousness constitutes their entire reality." With almost a whole 
generation of acute and powerful minds this passed for a virtual 
axiom. And with a great part of the succeeding generation of 
American and British philosophers the contradictory of this 
proposition has passed for a virtual axiom: viz., that "all experi- 
ence" or, at least, "all sensory experience" "carries with it the 
guarantee of the extra-mentality of its object." To me neither 
of these propositions has appeared either self-evident or, on its 
face, particularly probable. It is, obviously, unpleasant and 
disillusioning to be compelled to believe so many of the teachers of 
one's youth, on the one hand, or so many of one's most eminent 
contemporaries, on the other, to be simply the victims of a 
specious pseudo-axiom concerning the primary issue of meta- 
physics; but this alternative, at least, has been unescapable for 
most of us who contribute to these volumes. It is, however, still 
more unfortunate, and still more productive of doubts about 
the way in which the business of philosophizing is conducted, 



86 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to be compelled to regard both groups as basing their philosophies 
upon opposite and equally unconvincing pseudo-axioms. And 
in this latter position I regretfully find myself placed. I am unable, 
in short, to see any inconceivability in the supposition that 
"reality" may be of a mixed character, and that the " objects" 
apprehended in sensory or other experience may be in some 
cases purely ' 'mental" and in others "extra-mental" though I 
regard these traditional adjectives as not altogether happily 
chosen ; and I find what seem to me strong reasons for regarding 
this supposition as probable. 

The student of philosophy in our time, in other words, appears 
to me to have usually been confronted with the entirely gratuitous 
dilemma of an absolute idealism or an absolute realism (i.e., a 
"pan-objectivism"). To be unable to embrace either horn of the 
dilemma to believe in a physical world, a most disreputable 
thing in the eyes of the one party, but also to believe in "ideas" 
in something like the Cartesian and Lockian sense, an equally 
disreputable thing in the eyes of the other party is to be in a 
position which, among its other inconveniences, imposes upon 
one who has a natural wish to vindicate the reasonableness of his 
opinions the necessity of conducting a polemic upon two fronts 
at once, or, at the least, of meeting two convergent attacks. And 
to do both (not to say either) in a manner adequate to the impor- 
tance of the issues and the number and undeniable plausibility 
of the considerations urged upon the two sides would obviously 
be impossible within the limits set for these papers. But there is, 
after all, one considerable advantage in an intermediate position : 
the object of convergent attacks may save himself some effort 
by stepping aside and permitting the attacks to converge upon 
one another. The result may be the destruction of one, if not both, 
of the assailants, or at least the weakening of one or both. And 
of this possible economy of effort I shall take advantage. Some of 
the reasons why the "great tenet" of idealism has ceased to appear 
to me evident or probable will, I imagine, be found clearly and 
forcefully expressed in other contributions to these volumes; 
and it would be a redundancy to repeat them here. Most though 
by no means all of us in America who were initiated into 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 87 

philosophy thirty or forty years ago have passed, up to a point, 
through much the same reflective experience; we have found 
the idealistic creed, in one or another form of which our philo- 
sophic youth was nurtured, untenable, and have done so in part 
under the pressure of the same considerations. But of those who 
have gone thus far together, the greater number (at all events 
until recently) have seen no permanent assurance for philosophy 
against a relapse into the error from which they have themselves, 
as they believe, escaped, unless the road be followed almost or 
quite to its opposite extreme unless, that is, it be held, either 
that * 'consciousness" does not exist at all, or that, at most, it is 
a mere otiose awareness of objects in no way dependent upon it 
that, in other words, there are no existences which "take their 
being from consciousness/' or whose "presence to consciousness 
constitutes their entire reality." In my own belief the real danger 
of a relapse lies rather in passing to this alternative extreme; 
but I am glad to profit by such arguments as others have offered 
to show, at least, the necessity of abandoning the old position. 

There is, however, one consideration, relevant to the question 
of the tenability of idealism, but also to many other philosophical 
issues, which has figured much more largely in my own reflection 
than it has, so far as I have been able to gather, in that of most 
American realists; and I shall be less likely to repeat what others 
will have better said if I dwell chiefly upon this. To all theories 
about the nature of reality or of knowledge I early began to 
apply one touch-stone before any other that of congruence 
with the most indubitable fact of our experience, namely, that 
experience itself is temporal. That life is transition; that our 
existence is meted out to us in fragments which succeed and 
supplant one another; that there is a region of being even 
though it consist only of our own past thoughts and deeds and 
emotions of which the content and character are settled and 
unalterable, and a region of the not-yet-realized, which our 
volitional natures and our most irrepressible affective attitudes 
hope and fear, resolution and hesitancy, purpose and planning 
manifestly presuppose, and apart from the conception of which 
they would be meaningless: these have always seemed to me to 



88 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

be the first and fundamental empirical truths of which philosophi- 
cal speculation must take account. It is in the degree in which 
it keeps steadfastly in mind the temporality of man's being and 
his knowing that a philosophy is faithful to the primary certitude 
of human consciousness about its own nature, and is relevant to 
human life. But it is precisely from this aspect of existence that 
philosophy has throughout the greater part of its history made 
haste to turn its gaze, to fix it upon things that are complete, 
self-contained, eternal, or immutable. That there are no such 
things, or even that our chief concern may not be with them, is 
not, indeed, implied merely by the fact that our experience is 
mutable and successive; but no assertion of any supra-temporal 
realm of being can, as it has seemed to me, be admitted into a 
philosophy which does not resort to the silly verbal subterfuge 
of illusionism, unless the reality of the eternal entities which arc 
affirmed can be shown to be reconcilable with the elementary 
and immediately certain fact that we mortals live that is, have 
a transitive, perpetually lapsing and yet continuing, mode of 
being under the form of time, and with what is implied even by 
the theory of eternal realities itself namely, that the knowing of 
such realities by us occurs in time. 

How many difficulties and paradoxes the notion of temporal 
process presents to the analytic understanding I am well aware ; 
that philosophers, being for the most part eager and impatient 
rationalizers of the scheme of things, have often had little interest 
in that notion is only too easily comprehensible. Reality would, 
of course, be far more manageable intellectually if it were innocent 
of succession; some of the German Romanticists, and Bcrgson 
after them, were quite right in declaring that the natural and 
persistent tendency of the intellect is to translate temporal into 
quasi-spatial categories, to treat the flux as if it were stationary 
and the unrealized as if it were existent. But the embarrassments 
which the concept of time has created for philosophy are no 
justification for denying, ignoring, or slighting the strange yet 
unescapable fact which every man, and therefore every philo- 
sopher, is continually experiencing the fact that his very thought 
is in process, that there lie behind him moments of being which 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 89 

he can never in themselves recapture and before him a possible 
future which he can, perhaps, in some measure foreshadow, but 
which he assuredly does not yet in its living poignancy possess. 

I came, then, to a conclusion which along with much with 
which I should disagree Bosanquet long afterwards expressed 
when he wrote: "The ultimate crux of speculation" is "the place 
of time, progress, and change in the universe. There is nothing 
so difficult as this problem and nothing so essential to reasonable 
thought or conduct." It was thus the fact of the reality of time, 
and the problems of the psychological nature of our experience 
of succession and the significance of the temporal process, that 
did most to arouse my dissatisfaction with the doctrines of some 
of my early teachers, and to set me upon the attempt to philoso- 
phize for myself; and when, later, it seemed necessary to have 
a label to attach to the way of thinking to which I inclined, I 
ventured to coin the word "temporalism" for that purpose. 1 The 
term still seems to me a desirable addition to the philosophical 
vocabulary as a means for setting off from all other doctrines 
those which regard the reality of time as among the irreducible 
ultimates of philosophy and as a crucial test of the tenability 
of metaphysical and epistemological theories. A "temporalist" 
philosophy, as I should use the term, would not necessarily assert 
that all that is is temporal; but it would insist that whatever 
empirically is temporal is so irretrievably that its temporality 
can by no dialectical hocus-pocus be transubstantiated or aufge- 
hoben into, or embraced within, the eternal. 

Tested by this criterion, the whole scheme of absolute idealism, 
which had been so earnestly and impressively taught (with 
variations) by Green, the Cairds, Bradley, Bosanquet, and other 
British neo-Hegelians, and to which Royce was in the eighteen- 
nineties giving what seems to me its most coherent and adequate 
expression, at once broke down. The essence of that doctrine 
was the supposition that an eternal whole can be conceived to be 

1 The term has not, I believe, been extensively adopted ; it is, however, 
frequently employed by Bosanquet in The Meeting of Extremes in Contem- 
porary Philosophy to designate the view which he there chiefly attacks 
and which is, in essence, the view that I hold and should so designate. 



90 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

made up of temporal parts, that an absolute experience, which is 
incapable of alteration because it is for ever at the goal, can include 
within itself innumerable experiences of succession. This, even 
in my student days, seemed to me no better than a flat contradic- 
tion and so it seems to me still. That there may be, apart from 
the temporal world, some reality corresponding to that Boethian 
definition of eternity which Royce loved to quote inter minabilis 
vitae tota simul ac perfecta possessio in other words, to the 
Aristotelian and Scholastic Absolute I will not deny, though, 
as a temporal creature, I find the conception, to say the least, 
difficult, irrelevant, and unappealing. But that such a reality 
should be identified with the whole of a world of which we 
temporal creatures and our present strivings, our lost yesterdays 
and hoped-for to-morrows, are declared to be genuine component 
parts this I cannot but consider as preposterous a paradox as 
any which the history of philosophy has to show and that, I 
think, is saying much. 

I am, also, not unaware how strong and natural are the religious 
motives which make for this sort of metaphysics. It is a very 
soothing and comfortable self-contradiction as is not surprising ; 
for it is of the nature of self-contradictions to be comfortable, 
and conversely, I am not sure that there are any altogether 
comfortable views of the world which are not self-contradictory. 
The good which all men naturally desire is the privilege of eating 
their cake and having it too; and this human craving, which finds 
such small satisfaction in the world of physical experience and 
the logical world of the "mere understanding," many types of 
philosophy have sought to gratify in the matter of our beliefs. 
Psychologically considered, this has been one of the frequent 
historic functions of speculative philosophy; and psychopatho- 
logically considered, it has, perhaps, been a benign function. To 
escape somewhere from the exasperating factual and logical 
incompatibilities of things, from the necessity of choice between 
alternatives of which both are desirable, from the everlasting 
entweder-oder des hartnackigen Verstandes this, of course, is a 
grateful, and may to some temperaments be a needful, relief; 
and those philosophies which offer it, and especially those 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 91 

which give what seem subtly reasoned justifications for it, have 
always been assured, and probably always will be assured, of a 
welcome. But of all such philosophies, and therefore, in particular, 
of Hegelianism and its offspring, I early became suspicious 
chiefly, I think, under the influence of William James and of 
the reading of Renouvier, to which he used to incite his students 
in the 'nineties. Both helped me to realize that the lust to reconcile 
the irreconcilable is one of the besetting temptations of the meta- 
physical temperament, one of the dangers against which the 
philosopher needs most to be on his guard a temptation the 
greater and the more insidious in proportion to the many-sided- 
ness of the philosopher's mind and the consequent diversity and 
intensity of his intellectual sympathies. 

This conviction, of course, settled no specific problem. There 
obviously have been set up, in the history of thought, a number 
of spurious contradictions which do disappear upon adequate 
analysis. But the influences which I have mentioned helped to 
create, or to sharpen, a predisposition which has, I suppose, 
affected my conclusions on a number of problems, and in particu- 
lar upon the tenability of absolute idealism. They freed me (I 
hope) of any readiness to let the attractiveness or "nobility" of 
any proposed reconciliation of opposites obscure contradictions 
lurking in it or in the argument for it ; and they led me to believe 
that, in the main, the philosopher's business consists in making 
choice between alternatives. I did not fail to examine with care 
such acute and ingenious arguments as were offered by Bradley 
and by Royce to prove that there is no contradiction in the notion 
of a totum simul made up of successive parts. But Bradley's 
argument, as Royce himself helped me to see, was only a round- 
about way of saying that the Absolute Experience is not really 
made up of the sort of relational (including temporal) experience 
which is ours; and Royce's own attempt (especially in vol. ii of 
The World and the Individual] to show how it conceivably may 
be literally so made up seemed to me a failure. (To prove that it 
was, in fact, a failure would, of course, require an analysis far too 
lengthy to be presented here.) Nor, I may add, was my conclusion 
shaken when, long after, Bosanquet, in his The Meeting of 



92 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Extremes in Contemporary Philosophy, endeavoured afresh to 
vindicate "the view that the foundational character of all that 
is, while containing the infinite changes which are the revelation 
of its inexhaustible life, not confinable within a single direction 
or temporal career, is not itself and as siich engaged in a progress 
and mutation." 1 The greater the dialectical resources bestowed 
upon the justification of such a conception, the more nakedly 
did the essential self-contradiction in it appear to me to stand 
out. 

The form of idealism to which I had been introduced by 
Howison did not, indeed, present this contradiction. While it 
recognized an eternal as well as a temporal order of being, the 
eternal did not for it contain the temporal. Each finite mind 
was declared to be, "in one side of its being," an "empirical" exist- 
ence in time, and, in another side, to "have an eternal reality 
that did not arise out of change, and that cannot by change pass 
away" "eternal" here being expressly defined as the negation 
of "temporal."- That what is experienced as temporal is so 
genuinely and without any sublation into its opposite was there- 
fore not denied by this theory. Yet even this less paradoxical 
sort of eternalism I was unable to accept. In the first place the 
proofs offered for it seemed to me unconvincing. It rested mainly 
upon Kantian premises. Our possession of a priori knowledge was 
supposed to imply the existence of an eternal or noumenal Ego 
as the "source" and ground of all these "connecting and inference- 
supporting elements in human consciousness," But I could never 
see the connection between the premise and the conclusion. That 
at each moment the contents of each individual consciousness 
have a "unique and not further analysable togetherness" I 
recognized; and that some factor of continuity, some element 
persistent or identically recurrent in consciousness from moment 
to moment, must be assumed, to make our experience of succes- 
sion and duration conceivable at all, seemed to me evident. 
But why the fact supposing it a fact that we find certain 
specific judgments "necessary/ 7 and therefore are constrained to 

1 Op. dt. t p. 210; italics mine. 

a The Limits of Evolution, 1901, pp. xv, xvi. 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 93 

think them valid for cases of which we have not yet had experience, 
should be regarded as a reason for affirming the reality of a multi- 
tude of supra-temporal or eternal selves, was to me incomprehen- 
sible. The apprehension of the necessity is itself always an empirical 
event having a date in a temporal sequence ; and if the necessity 
apprehended be something both objective and eternal, the 
eternity, surely, must attach to the logical order to what Locke 
calls the "relation of connection and -agreement, or disagreement 
and repugnancy between ideas" to which the judgment, qua 
necessary and universal, relates, and not to the function of judg- 
ing nor to the psychological subject, or maker, of the judgment. 1 
If, in short, any "eternal reality" is implied by the assumption 
that we have a priori knowledge, that reality is the world of 
noumenal objects of Platonic realism, not the noumenal Egos 
of Kantianism. 

Not only did the proof offered for the latter seem unpersuasive, 
but the conception, when taken in its entirety, seemed impossible. 
How a temporal experience could be hitched on to an eternal 
self without infecting the latter with its temporality, I could not, 
and cannot, see nor yet how an eternal self could be constantly 
engaged in temporal acts of cognition without impairment of its 
eternity. As little did the theory appear to me to have the ethical 
and religious consequences which were drawn from it, and which, 
as I could not but feel, were in reality its chief generating motives. 
It purported to vindicate both freedom and immortality. Because 
out of time all selves were also out of the causal nexus and thus 



1 Misconception of Locke's position is so prevalent that the quotation 
from him here will perhaps seem to some readers inapposite. But it should 
be patent that in the fourth book of the Essay his theory is essentially a 
sort of Platonistic rationalism. We "know/' in the strict sense, only when 
we perceive a logically inherent "connection between ideas/' and experi- 
ence is not for him knowledge nor, properly speaking, a source of know- 
ledge. The notion that Locke was an empiricist has arisen through reading 
his sensationalist account of the "origin of our ideas/' i.e. of the way in 
which "ideas" get into our minds, into his theory of the nature and grounds 
of knowledge. His total doctrine is that the ideas, though they come to us 
through our senses, come bringing their eternal and necessary logical 
inter-relations with them; and "knowledge" consists exclusively in intui- 
tively reading of! these relations. 



94 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

undetermined and independent; "relatively to the natural world 
they are free, in the sense of being in control of it : so far from 
being bound by it and its laws, they are the very source of all 
the law there is or can be in it. " But even supposing this admitted, 
such freedom manifestly had no moral significance; it belonged 
to an abstraction, a noumenal Ego that never acted in time, in 
which alone moral good and evil subsist or, if it did so act, 
became thereby enmeshed, along with all the temporal life of 
man, in necessity. And inasmuch as the distinctive "empirical 
character 1 ' of the individual was supposed as it had already 
been by Kant 1 to be somehow the expression or temporal 
unfolding of something unique in the "intelligible character" of 
each eternal self, this so-called freedom was indistinguishable 
from the most absolute necessity. Every man is and does what 
the differentiating nuance that makes his supersensible character 
distinct from all others requires ; and this determination from all 
eternity, and apart from all volition, to be the kind of self that 
one is, is a blanker, more unexplainable sort of predestination 
than that implied by the postulate of causal uniformity in tem- 
poral phenomena. Similarly, any argument from the "eternity" 
of the noumenal self to the persistence in the future of an empirical 
individual existence which, moreover, was supposed to have 
begun in time appeared to me impossible. Either the "super- 
sensible self' really was eternal i.e., without duration or 
succession in time or it was temporal. If the former, nothing 
could be inferred about the duration of the temporal self somehow 
incomprehensibly associated with it; if the latter, it appeared 
antecedently as conceivable that any individual entity of this 
kind should have an end as that it should have a beginning. 

Thus both the pluralistic and the monistic type of idealism, 
though they were presented by teachers of such rare gifts and 
philosophic power as Howison and Royce, appeared to me 
equally unacceptable as wholes. Yet one essential contention of 
the former theory, as against the latter, I found convincing; 
and this consisted precisely in its pluralism. That there is in the 

1 I am referring to Kant's amazing reasoning about freedom in the 
Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, pp. 224-36. 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 95 

experience of each individual at each moment something unique 
and unshareable that to know about another's experience is 
never the same as having it this seemed to me a truth upon 
which the "multi-personalist" rightly insisted. Monistic idealism 
especially in the form which it had when Royce rid it of its 
usual foggy indefiniteness seemed to imply that you could take 
a lump of experience commonly called John's, add to it another 
lump commonly called Peter's, another commonly called the 
experience of Peter's dog, and so proceed ad infinitum, and thereby 
could compound a total, called the Absolute Experience, in which 
nothing that had belonged to any of these component units 
would be lacking, though much might be added. But something, 
I think, would necessarily be lacking namely, that which made 
the first experience John's, the second Peter's, the third the dog's. 
An experience, in short, appears to be always a centred or appro- 
priated mass of ingredients; it may have elements in common 
with other experiences, may be directed upon identical objects, 
but the "unique togetherness" of the mass in the individual 
moment of consciousness is a togetherness from a special point 
of view; and this feature of any one experience, though it can be 
designated in general and abstract terms, cannot, so far as I 
can see, be actually and in its concrete particularity an attribute 
of any other experience. Even the limitations or dissatisfactions 
of my present thought or feeling are more than mere limitations. 
If the Absolute knows my error, but at the same time sees beyond 
it to the truth, it is not my experience of erring that he is having; 
and if he is aware of my grief, but at the same time knows that it 
is transitory and that some joy is to follow, he is not sharing my 
grief, since of that the very essence is its seeming finality. You 
can't, I am inclined to think, ever add to an experience without 
subtracting something; cannot enlarge without also omitting; 
cannot, even from what is called a more comprehensive point 
of view, see all the aspects which things present from a more 
contracted one. This, if true, confirmed the conclusion based upon 
the considerations respecting time which have been previously 
mentioned. Both the temporality and the individuatedness of 
our human experiences forbade the supposition that they can 



96 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

all be embraced as experiences in any single Whole or be in their 
immediacy and integrity possessed by any Universal Mind. 

But the same two considerations which thus led me to reject 
absolute idealism seemed to contain a positive implication of 
great importance. They both assert the separateness, the mutual 
existential externality, of certain of the parts of reality exter- 
nality which in the one case may be called lengthwise, in the other 
case crosswise. Yesterday's experience is truly contained neither 
in my to-day nor in any eternal to-day of a Cosmic Consciousness ; 
as little, even apart from the question of time, can my neigh- 
bour's life be integrally a part of mine or of that of a Cosmic 
Consciousness. But I was constrained to believe that I am capable 
of knowing (more or less imperfectly) both my own yesterday and 
my neighbour's life not only that there was a yesterday, and 
that there are lives not my own, but also something of their 
content and character. These beliefs are not derived through 
reasoning; they are not ''necessary" in the sense that their 
opposites are self-contradictory; and they obviously can never be, 
in the strict sense, "empirically" verified, because they consist 
in affirmations of the possibility of a knowledge of existents 
which are not, when known, immediate data in experience. But 
they are beliefs which underlie the whole of human life as it is 
actually lived by all of us; genuinely to disbelieve them appears 
to be impossible to man, certainly to those whom we are accus- 
tomed to classify as sane. The occasional lovers of philosophic 
paradox who have professed such disbelief seem to me merely to 
display an unconvincing affectation. In any case these beliefs 
were obviously implicit in the temporalism and the pluralism 
which I had already accepted; and at the same time, when 
explicitly construed from a temporalistic and pluralistic point 
of view, they manifestly entailed a definite theory about the 
nature of knowledge. If there is a real succession of experiences, 
and if, nevertheless, the experience of one moment may include, 
or consist in, a knowing of the existence of some prior or subse- 
quent moment's experience, it follows that knowledge consists 
in somehow "apprehending" one bit of existence by means of 
another which is not identical with it. And, similarly, if my 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 97 

fellow's experience at all events his experiencing may never- 
theless be known by me, the same conclusion again follows. 

The acceptance of a temporalistic and pluralistic metaphysics 
thus carried with it the acceptance of an epistemological dualism. 
Both intertemporal cognition and interpersonal cognition seem 
to me to show that, in its very essence, knowing, our most 
characteristic human function, is an organic process characterized 
by a potential reference to, an evocation and apprehension of, a 
Beyond. When we know in these ways we appear somehow to 
have presented in our experience at a given moment realities 
which we must at the same time conceive as existing outside of 
that experience, in the sense (at least) that they do not exist at 
that moment, or that they are experiences (or experiencings) of 
other selves. To be known (except in the way in which immediate 
sensory content is sometimes, but, as I think, unfortunately 
said to be "known") things must to use a happy phrase of 
Professor Dewey's be "present- as-absent"; but since in the 
view of a temporalist and a pluralist a given bit of reality 
cannot be literally both present and absent, knowing must be a 
function of a unique and anomalous (but not a self-contradictory) 
sort. It must consist (partly) in the existence, at a given time and 
within an individuated field of consciousness, of particulars which 
do duty for other particulars, extraneous to that time and that 
field; and the former particulars must have associated with 
them in consciousness, the peculiar but, as I submit, empiric- 
ally the perfectly familiar property which some of the School- 
men termed "intentionality" and later dualistic epistemology 
has called "self-transcendent reference/' The "intentional 11 or 
referential quality of a given bit of content present now in my 
cognitive experience is itself an item in the same present experi- 
ence. For example, the pastness of its date of reference is itself 
a present and directly experienced quality of a memory-image, 
which does not in the least mean that in memory the past is 
directly experienced. "We apprehend the various elements of 
our presented content as fitting into a framework of conceptual- 
ized temporal relations which, in fact, appear in consciousness, 
at a given moment, largely by the aid of spatial imagery, as of a 

VOL. II G 



98 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

calendar or a time-table. And this temporal framework in which 
our images appear has a curious twofold relation to our present 
consciousness. As a datum for introspection, as an existent now 
given in experience, the framework is included in the^present 
content; but at the same time, as a conceived scheme of relations, 
it logically includes the present moment and its content as a 
single unit in the larger system represented/' 

In cognition, in short, consciousness becomes, in Royce's 
phrase, "self -representative." A given moment of thought may 
consist in a representation of a whole world of objects in relations 
of many kinds temporal, spatial, logical in which it is itself, 
as represented, a mere fragment. Thus it is that a given experience, 
e.g. a memory can cognitively or representatively transcend 
itself without any existential self-transcendence. The memory- 
image exists as a transient bit of reality now and at no other 
time; but it exists in its place in a representation of a more com- 
prehensive whole in which the now is an element consciously 
distinguished from the not-now. If the notion of "intentionality" 
seems to some a paradox and a mystery, I reply that, on the 
contrary, it is a notion obviously entertained by the plain man 
and by most philosophers in their normal moments. For to 
leave the case of memory when men conceive themselves to 
be knowing about a future event, or even so much as distinguish- 
ing the future from the past, they do not conceive of the future 
as existent in the same sense as the present. The whole point of 
the distinction lies in the conception of the future as something 
not now experienced or possessed; yet the conception of it as not 
now experienced manifestly is now experienced. And what is 
described by the formidable term ' 'self-transcendent reference" 
is no more (and no less) mysterious than this common phenomenon 
in the functioning of any creature capable of looking before and 
after. 1 

My approach to realism was thus through a criticism of the 

1 The theme of this paragraph I have dealt with somewhat less in- 
adequately in a paper on "The Anomaly of Consciousness" in the University 
of California Publications in Philosophy, vol. iv, from which a few sentences 
above are taken. 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 99 

idealistic philosophies prevalent when my reflection on these 
matters began; but this criticism, when its implications were 
examined, turned out to require, as its positive corollary, a con- 
ception of knowledge as indirect and substitutional; it involved, 
in short, a theory of representative ideas, at least with respect to 
cognition of past and future events and of the experiences of 
other selves. And with this the epistemological basis of every 
sort of idealism collapsed. If knowledge was, in fact, mediate in 
certain cases, it might conceivably be mediate in others for 
example, in the case of sense-perception. There might be reasons 
of other kinds for accepting a spiritualistic metaphysics ; but the 
citadel of the idealistic position to change the figure had 
always been the epistemological assumption that only the 
immediate compresent content of a cognitive experience could 
be known through that experience; even in "objective" idealism 
this assumption had persisted, but its application had been 
transferred to the Absolute, who in that theory was the only 
knower in the strict sense, the sole possessor of genuine truth. 
But this citadel had now, as it seemed to me, been breached. 
In the usual epistemological sense of the term, a temporalistic 
or a pluralistic "idealism" would obviously not be idealism at 
all; for example, any consistent monadology is clearly a form of 
realism, since it implies that there are, between two monads, 
real relations which do not fall within the experience of either or 
of any third monad. If, then, a particular knower at a particular 
time can truly know realities which do not have their existence 
within, or in dependence upon, his consciousness at that time] 
and if there may subsist relations, even though they be relations 
between consciousnesses, which are not in any consciousness 
then there is no decisive presumption to be drawn from purely 
epistemological considerations against even physical realism. 
Meanwhile, a vigorous revolt against idealism had been taking 
place in other quarters, motivated by other reasons. Some of 
these seemed to me valid, and therefore reinforced the argument 
based upon the temporalistic and pluralistic considerations I 
have mentioned. Especially sound and salutary seemed to me 
the attacks made by several writers upon the doctrine of the 



100 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

"internality" of all relations, which had been so important 
among the logical motives of post-Kantian idealism. This I had 
already rejected as incompatible with both temporalism and 
pluralism; but I had not subjected it to the separate and direct 
analysis which was now brought to bear upon it by others. 
Nevertheless the theses that were most distinctive, and in some 
sense "new," in the neo-realistic movements which became 
conspicuous in American and British philosophy during the first 
decade of the century, I could by no means accept; and the pri- 
mary reason for this was the view about the nature of knowledge 
that was implicit on the grounds upon which I had rejected 
idealism. The new types of realistic theory were profoundly 
influenced either by William James's supposed discovery that 
"consciousness/ 1 as distinct from "content" or "objects/' does 
not exist, or by G. E. Moore's supposed discovery, about the 
same time, that "consciousness" does exist, but is entirely distinct 
from content and is incapable of generating or modifying its 
immediate data. If either of these premises was adopted, it 
followed that all knowing is immediate, that the "content" (of 
consciousness, or the "content" without any consciousness) 
present in the cognitive experience is existentially identical with 
the object known. In the words of the authors of The New Realism, 
"there is no special class of entities, qualitatively or substantively 
distinguished from all other entities, as the media of knowledge. 
In the end all things are known through being themselves brought 
directly into that relation in which they are said to be witnessed 
or apprehended. In other words, things when consciousness is had 
of them become themselves contents of consciousness." 1 There was 
some wavering among neo-realists about following out this principle 
universally; but so far as it was consistently followed out it led 
to a sort of epistemological primitivism. What was proposed, as 
the same volume announced, was "a return to natural or naive 
realism," which was defined as the "theory which makes no 
distinction between seeming and being," but holds that "things 
are just what they seem." 2 

Now it appeared to me, for the reasons previously indicated, 
1 Op. cit., 1912, p. 35. a Ibid., pp, 10 and 2< 



ARTHUR 0. LOVEJOY 101 

to be certainly false to say that when I recall an event of yester- 
day, or foreknow an event of to-morrow, or apprehend my neigh- 
bour^ thought or feeling, these objects of my knowledge liter- 
ally "become themselves contents of (my) consciousness/' in the 
same way in which my own present sense-datum, or imagery, or 
feeling, is content of my consciousness. If yesterday's experience 
is past, it cannot be "numerically identical" either with the present 
event of my experiencing or with the content which is existent 
simultaneously with my present experiencing. Attempts have 
sometimes been made to meet this objection, either by suggesting 
that a present remembrance need have no compresent content 
which seems to me an absurdity or by conceiving of the past 
event as somehow actually persisting in the present. With respect 
to the latter way of evading the difficulty I am in agreement with 
the remark of Mr. Bertrand Russell: "This is mere mythology. 
The event which occurs when I remember is quite different from 
the event remembered. People who are starving can recollect 
their last meal, but the recollection does not appease their hunger. 
There is no mystic survival of the past when we remember 
merely a new event having a certain relation to the old one." 1 
In short, a consideration of memory alone would suffice, if there 
were no other reasons, to lead me, as a "temporalist," to reject 
the epistemological monism, i.e. the generalized hypothesis of 
direct knowledge without intermediating ' 'ideas, " which is the 
essence of the "new" realism. 

But there are many other reasons. The most important of 
these is the utter inability of any theory which regards knowledge 
as always an immediate apprehension of its intended object to 
account for error and illusion. The fact of error is the acid test 
for any epistemology; and the implication, in this regard, of 
neo-realism was all too truly indicated by the early American 
champions of that philosophy when they identified it, "broadly 
speaking/ 1 with the theory so "naive" that no one, I suppose, 
had ever previously asserted it which "makes no distinction 
between seeming and being/' but regards objects as "being 
precisely what they appear to be." The definition did not, it is 

* Philosophy, p. 198. 



102 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

true, prevent the authors of it from elsewhere recognizing clearly 
and candidly that the problem of error was for them crucial, and 
from attempting to find a solution of it which should be consis- 
tent with their hypothesis. These attempts are both too numerous 
-since nearly every adherent of the theory offers a different 
solution and too ingenious and involved to be examined in 
detail here. I must be content, without repeating the reasons 
which I have tried to set forth elsewhere, to say that none of the 
attempts appears to me successful, and that any doctrine of 
direct knowledge must, I believe precisely so far as it really is 
such a doctrine be incapable of accounting for error or even 
of recognizing its possibility. 

It is a further implication of the theory that knowing is always 
a direct apprehension of objects which would be just the same 
if no cognitive event had occurred, that all data of perception, 
whether those commonly regarded as veridical or those called 
illusory, are genuine parts of the physical world. To this conclu- 
sion the neo-realist is led, no doubt, by more than one logical 
motive. The desire to eliminate the duality of "mental" and 
"physical/' at all events with respect to the content of conscious- 
ness (in distinction from a possible function of merely "being 
conscious 1 '), is widely manifest in contemporary philosophy. It 
is, of course, a natural desire, since, if it could be satisfied, the 
result would be a great unification of our conception of the nature 
of things a unification in realistic instead of idealistic terms. 
It is manifest, therefore, in other contemporary realists, such as 
Mr. Bertrand Russell, who reject epistemological monism. But 
here, too, I have been unable to follow the road which so many 
philosophical minds of my generation have found inviting and 
apparently satisfying. To explain the considerations which have 
deterred me from doing so would manifestly require, first of all, 
an attempt to define the nature of the "physical world/' and then 
an examination of each of the classes of experienced content 
which seem to me to resist inclusion in that world, when so 
defined. It would also require, in order to be relevant to the 
latest phase of the controversy, a discussion of Mr. Russell's 
recent ingenious hypothesis that our percepts (and apparently 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 108 

all other content) are "in our heads/' and that, e.g., the bit of 
what I call "blue sky" which is now present in my visual field is 
really a part of my brain a task the more difficult because I 
find it hard to see how Mr. Russell's general theory permits us 
to suppose that we have any members properly describable as 
"heads." These are, of course, too large and complicated under- 
takings to be attempted here. But if I may assume that member- 
ship in the physical world means presence in a single, public, 
spatial, or spatio-temporal order, in which the laws of physics 
hold good, then I cannot see how the content of dreams, hallucina- 
tions, illusions, or even the contents of veridical perception as 
the epistemological dualist must conceive them, can be given 
a place in that world. This does not imply that the existence 
of these contents is not dependent upon processes themselves 
physical and conforming to the generalizations of the physicists. 
But physical science itself would be impossible if such entities as 
dream-monsters, the dipsomaniac's pink rats, or present memory- 
images of vanished objects all with the qualities and behaviour 
which they are experienced as exhibiting were placed upon the 
same footing as "scientific objects." The distinction between the 
"mental," in the sense of that which merely "appears" in an 
individuated private field of content, and the "physical," in the 
sense of an independent, orderly, perduring system of entities 
or "events" having dynamic or causal relations inter se of the 
kind which physical science hypothetically describes, was perhaps 
one of the earliest, and is still, I am disposed to think, one of the 
most indispensable of the philosophical acquisitions of mankind. 
The "bifurcation" of experience, if not of "nature" (the use of 
the term in this connection is question-begging), is the beginning 
of wisdom in metaphysics. 

This will, perhaps, suffice to convey some very general notion 
of the primary considerations (though these are by no means all) 
which have brought me to that position mentioned at the outset, 
intermediate between the idealism accepted by most good philo- 
sophers when my acquaintance with philosophy began, and the 
type of realism enthusiastically adopted by so many good philo- 
sophers during the past quarter-century. Some steps in this 



104 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

itinerarium mentis have necessarily been omitted altogether. 
For example, any idealistic reader will have discerned that no 
positive reason has been given for accepting a physical realism; 
but that is one of the deficiencies which will, I hope, be abundantly 
made good by some of the other contributors to these volumes. 
And the temporalistic premise in which the whole process began 
needs, I realize, much further elucidation, alike with respect to 
the difficult concept of time itself, to its cosmological implications, 
the general world-view which it entails or suggests, and to its 
bearing upon the historic issues of religious belief. But both to 
express opinions on these further matters and also to present 
reasons for the opinions is plainly out of the question within the 
limits of space available here; and the statement of conclusions 
(on matters about which the views of reasonable men differ) 
without reasons is manifestly not philosophy. 



ARTHUR O. LOVEJOY 105 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

"The Thirteen Pragmatisms/' Journal of Philosophy, vol. v (1908), 
"The Obsolescence of the Eternal/ 1 Philosophical Review, vol. xviii 

(1909). 
"Reflections of a Temporalist on the New Realism," Journal of 

Philosophy, vol. viii (1911). 
"William James as Philosopher," International Journal of Ethics, 

vol. xxi (1911), 

Papers on Vitalism, Science, 1911, 1912. 
"The Problem of Time in Recent French Philosophy," Philosophical 

Review, vol. xxi (1912). 
"Realism versus Epistemological Monism," Journal of Philosophy, 

vol. x (1913). 
"On Some Novelties of the New Realism," Journal of Philosophy, 

vol. x (1913). 

"Error and the New Realism," Philosophical Review, vol. xxii (1913). 
"Bergson and Romantic Evolution," University of California Press, 

1914- 

"On the Existence of Ideas," Johns Hopkins University Circular 

(1914). 

"On Some Conditions of Progress in Philosophical Inquiry," Philo- 
sophical Review, vol. xxvi (1917). 

"Pragmatism as Interactionism," Journal of Philosophy, vol. xvii 
(1920). 

"Pragmatism versus the Pragmatist," in Essays in Critical Realism, 
1920. 

"Time, Meaning, and Transcendence," Journal of Philosophy, 
vol. xix (1922). 

"The Paradox of the Thinking Behaviorist," Philosophical Review, 
vol. xxxi (1922). 

"The Anomaly of Knowledge," in University of California Publica- 
tions in Philosophy, vol. iv (1923). 

"The Discontinuities of Evolution," Ibid., vol. v (1924). 

"Pastness and Transcendence," Journal of Philosophy, vol. xxi 

(1924). 

"La th6orie de la stcrilite de la conscience dans la philosophic 
americaineet anglaise," Bulletin de la Societe Fran$aise de Philo- 
sophic, 1926. 

"Optimism and Romanticism," Publications of the Modern Language 
Association of America, vol. xlii (1927). 

"The Meanings of 'Emergence' and its Modes," Journal of Philo- 
sophical Studies, vol. ii (1927). 



A TENTATIVE REALISTIC METAPHYSICS 



By EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 

Born Bangkok, Slam, 1864; Professor of Philosophy, University of 

Wisconsin. 



A TENTATIVE REALISTIC METAPHYSICS 

MY philosophical creed is that if ever we are to have an even 
partially satisfactory philosophy, we shall get it only by the use 
of scientific methods. The materials to which these methods are 
to be applied are supplied by experience, not the crude experience 
of everyday life, but this experience as interpreted by the various 
special sciences. The interpretation given by any special science 
to the material it investigates is relevant to that material; but 
the question of the adequacy of that interpretation when that 
material is considered as only one aspect of the world revealed 
to us in experience is one that the special science seldom raises. 
What the philosopher tries to do is to fit this interpretation 
into a larger scheme which embraces other aspects of the world 
as interpreted by other special sciences. Thus the self-imposed 
task of the philosopher is the integration of the scientific inter- 
pretations of the world in which he finds himself. Any step he 
takes in the accomplishment of his task is precarious; there are 
too many factors of uncertainty. The special sciences are them- 
selves constantly changing their interpretations, and even at 
any time the interpretation any science gives to findings in its 
field cannot be fully understood unless all the facts it investigates 
are taken into account; and it is only the special scientist who 
has detailed knowledge of these facts. It thus behoves a philo- 
sopher to be quite humble in his attitude toward his results. 
He should never infallibly know that he is right, and should 
always suspect that he is wrong. He attacks his problem not 
because he believes that he can definitely solve it, but because 
he is interested in it and cannot keep his hands off. He merely 
hopes that he may perhaps contribute something to its solution ; 
at best the contribution will be infinitesimally small in the ultimate 
reckoning and perhaps there will be no ultimate reckoning. 

For this reason it is wise for the philosopher to content himself 
with being a philosopher only within very narrow limits. He will 
attack only one philosophical problem at a time : he will attempt 
to integrate the interpretation of experience given in some 
special science with that given in some other special science, 



110 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

but he will not attempt a wholesale integration. This does not 
mean that he does not keep a weather-eye open for winds that 
may be brewing elsewhere. As a philosopher he must have that 
eye always functioning; but it cannot see everything. It is rather 
on the look out for something that may be at variance with 
what he thinks he sees in the immediate neighbourhood. 

There are two philosophical problems that have most per- 
sistently interested me, the metaphysical and the moral problems. 
In a paper like this it seems better to confine myself to the former. 
In view of the direction in which the solution of this problem 
seems to lie, I am tempted to define metaphysics as the view of 
the world in which physics and psychology are satisfactorily 
integrated. Under such a definition behaviourism is metaphysical. 
The reason it has not recognized its metaphysical status is that 
for it only that metaphysics is metaphysics which is not its own 
metaphysics. Behaviourism is, I think, a one-sided metaphysics, 
which has managed somehow to lose its first two syllables with 
out thereby becoming identical with physics. The works of such 
men as Whitehead, Russell, and Broad would seem to show 
that a metaphysician can keep in close touch with physics 
without developing an evangelical fervour hard to reconcile 
with an impartial outlook upon the facts of experience. The 
metaphysics of lip-service to physics, including laryngeal minis- 
trations, may consistently with itself prove to be neither physics 
nor philosophy, but mere talk. 

Descartes and Santayana have tried to see how much of 
common sense they can doubt and yet have anything left. I 
have been trying for years to see how much of common sense 
one can keep and yet have anything scientific. As yet I have 
found no conclusive evidence that the space and time found in 
my experience are not the space and time of physical objects; 
of course not all of the latter, but at least parts of the latter. 
Whether any of the sensible qualities found in my experience 
can be regarded as belonging to physical objects is a question 
that I will touch upon later. 

In saying that the space and the time in which I see things 
are actually and identically the space and the time in which 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 111 

physical objects have their being, I do not mean to prejudge 
the question of relativity in physics. Even if the relativist's 
conception of space-time be accepted, still the space and time 
of the system to which my body belongs are physical, and it is 
that space and that time that, I believe, can be shown to be 
the space and time of my experience] or rather they cannot be 
shown not to be. Even if one goes so far as Mr. Eddington in 
suggesting that ' 'space and time are only approximate concep- 
tions, which must ultimately give way to a more general con- 
ception of the ordering of events in nature not expressible in 
terms of a fourfold coordinate-system/' l one need not despair 
of common sense. Four-dimensional space-time does not neces- 
sarily annul the difference between space and time; space and 
time each may keep within the higher unity its indelible 
character, and each is an order-system, even though each is an 
element in a more comprehensive order-system. If mathematical 
physics should ultimately find that space-time belongs to a 
more general ordering of nature, there is no reason to suppose 
that it will lose its character in the larger order. Just as the 
spatial character of a parabola is not lost when expressed in an 
equation with time as parameter, so if ultimately we shall find 
it necessary to express space-time in equations with an as yet 
unknown parameter, it is gratuitous to fear that the spatial and 
temporal character of space and time will be lost by reason of 
such equations. Mathematics mistakes its scientific function if it 
supposes that its equations undo the facts of the experimentalist ; 
correlation is not annihilation. 

As a preliminary to showing that the space and time of sensible 
experience can be identified with the space and time of physics, 
it is necessary to call attention to a classification of relations 
which has quite often been ignored. Relations may be direct or 
indirect. An example of a direct relation is similarity; an example 
of an indirect relation is brotherhood. When we say that A and 
B are similar, we do not imply any other relation in which A 
and B stand. When we say that A and B are brothers, we do 
imply that they stand in another relation, the relation of sonship 
1 The Mathematical Theory of Relativity , p. 225. 



112 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to shared parents, C and D. Only by reason of their common 
sonship to C and D are they brothers. Let us call any relational 
complex in which the terms are indirectly related an "indirect 
complex/' Let us call the implied term or terms of the relation 
implied by an indirect complex the "condition" of the complex. 
Thus the condition of an indirect complex is not a member or 
term of that complex: the parents of A and B are not members 
of the complex "brothers"; they are members of the more 
comprehensive complex "family," of which the members of the 
indirect complex are members. The relationship of father- 
mother to son or daughter is by our definition the only direct 
relation found in a consanguine family. 

Let us now take the indirect complex, "second cousins at 
common law." They are great-grandchildren of common great- 
grandparents. The latter are the "condition" of the relation of 
second-cousinship. In general, great-grandparents are not alive 
when their great-grandchildren are born. In such a case, the 
great-grandparents do not become great-grandparents until after 
they are dead, thus reminding one of Solon's happy man. The 
cousins before they are born do not have great-grandparents, 
and after they are born it would seem as if, by a logic often 
employed, they were too late to have them. What I mean can 
be illustrated by the possible answers to the question, "Have 
you a wife?" "Yes" means "I have a wife and she is living.'' 
"No" may mean "I haven't and never had one," or it may 
mean "I had one but she is dead" (or probably divorced). In 
these cases the present tense "I have" implies that the wife is 
living and is a wife at the time of the answer. On the other 
hand, ask a man how many great-great-grandfathers he has, 
and ten to one, if he likes to calculate, he will begin to count 
up without noticing the tense of the verb in your question. 
When it comes to accurate expression, tenses are difficult and 
treacherous; there are too few of them for precision, and what 
there are of them must often serve purposes for which they 
were not intended, with the result that a grammatical philosopher 
is misled or becomes sophistical. 

The difficulty found by so many philosophers in my seeing 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 113 

now what now no longer exists is, I think, exactly the same 
difficulty a man grammatically meticulous has in deciding 
whether he has any great-grandfathers. I postulate that a 
physical field of vision is an indirect complex whose condition 
is an organism with an optical nervous system normally func- 
tioning and whose terms are material surfaces. The surfaces 
of physical objects (or events if you prefer) from which light 
arrives at the same time at the normally functioning eyes of an 
organism form a collection indirectly related by virtue of their 
relation to the organism. Vision is the relation in which the 
organism stands to the indirect complex just described. Vision 
is not an act of the organism or of a mind; it is the converse of 
the relation in which the objects just identified stand to the 
organism. If vision were an act of the organism, it would indeed 
be difficult to understand how an organism could see now what 
antedates the seeing. But if vision is the relation in which an 
organism stands to what initiated (or reflected) the light that 
on arriving at the eyes of the organism sets up changes in it, 
it is difficult to understand how vision could fail to be later 
than the objects (or events) which initiated the light. Just as 
great-grandparents do not become great-grandparents until a 
great-grandchild is born to them, so physical objects do not 
become a field of vision until light from them has stimulated 
an organism through its eyes. Upon the arrival of light from 
objects, the organism has vision in relation to these objects, 
just as a child in being born is born having great-grandparents, 
not having had them before. 1 When I say "I see physical 
objects/' the verb "see" does not name any act I perform on 
the objects that I say I see, any more than my having a great- 
grandfather is an act I perform toward him. I see, in having a 

1 The analogy fails in a point not relevant to our argument : my ancestors 
were instrumental in bringing me into the world ; the objects that eventually 
have succeeded in stimulating my organism through my eyes did not play 
any such part, exceptional cases excepted. To see that all this is irrelevant, 
consider the case of a man who marries an orphan, thereby making two 
deceased persons his parents-in-law. By his act a posthumous relation 
comes to obtain between them, the relation of being in common parents-in- 
law. Here there is no question of an existential dependence on either side. 
VOL. II H 



114 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

physical field of vision; I don't have it because I see. In other 
words, "to see physical objects" means exactly the same thing 
as "to have a physical field of vision." 

To make this point clearer, let us take the case of a camera 

in act of photographing objects. Something is doing in the 

plate of the camera, something consisting in photo-chemical 

processes. Now the field of the camera may be defined as all the 

surfaces of physical objects, light from which eventually sets 

these photo-chemical processes afoot. If the camera be an 

astronomer's camera photographing a star-cluster, the objects 

in the field long antedated the processes they now have set 

going; and those objects did not all at the same time send out 

the light whose arrival at the same time as the camera makes 

the changes in the plate which we call photographing the stars. 

If it be objected that the field of the camera does not consist 

of the stars of long ago that sent out this light, but of the light 

now arriving from those stars, I reply that this is a matter of 

definition merely. If you wish to reserve the term "field of the 

camera'' for the light arriving at the plate, this does not annul 

the fact that the dynamic relation starting from the stars and 

ending at the plate divides the objects of the physical universe 

into two classes, one consisting of the objects in this relation 

and the other consisting of all other objects. The camera stands 

to the former objects in a relation converse to that in which 

they stand to it; and in standing to those objects in that converse 

relation it has in them a natural group of correlata all of which 

long antedated its having them, and all of which presumably 

had various physical time-relations to each other. The time and 

place of its having these correlata are the time and place of the 

chemical changes occurring in it. The times and places of the 

correlata it has are not the time and place of the chemical 

changes it undergoes; each of the correlata had its own time 

and place. 

Now in the theory I propose as to the physical field of vision, 
the objects "seen" are analogous to the objects photographed. 
"Seeing" is analogous to the relation in which the camera while 
photographing its objects stands to the objects it photographs. 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 115 

In seeing an object, I do nothing to it; it has succeeded in doing 
something to me. When I see, I am indeed doing, but this doing 
is not my seeing. The analogy fails linguistically, only in that the 
verb "to photograph does not, except by implication, express 
the relation in which the camera stands to the stars while it is 
photographing them; it expresses the changes taking place in 
the plate which will later result in a developed negative, whereas 
the verb "to see" does express the relation in which my organism 
stands to the stars, and does not express but merely implies 
what is taking place in my organism. 

If it be objected that we sometimes have vision of only one 
object, and that therefore we may not properly define the 
physical field of vision as the class of objects from which light 
arrives at the eyes and starts physiological processes, I am 
willing for the sake of argument to concede the point. I should 
then define a vision of that object as the relation of an organism 
to that one object, a relation which is the converse of the relation 
in which that object stands to the organism in having started 
processes which finally result in stimulating the organism. 

Now a logical definition of a thing is not that thing itself. 
So our proposed definition of vision is not vision itself. It is 
possible to define many classes which as classes are artificial. 
Thus I can classify all the events in the universe into two groups, 
one consisting of all the events that occurred within the twenty- 
nine minutes that began forty-seven hours and thirteen seconds 
after the birth of any of Julius Caesar's ancestors, the events 
having occurred at a distance from the relevant birthplace of 
not less than two thousand three hundred fifty- three miles, 
and of not more than fifty-two thousand three hundred 
eighteen miles and eleven inches. There is logically such a class 
of occurrences, which of course would have to be defined more 
precisely if we accept the theory of relativity. But such a classi- 
fication is wantonly capricious and so far as we know does not 
correspond to any natural, i.e. dynamic, grouping in nature. 
On the other hand, the class consisting of all the ancestors of 
any person is a natural class, corresponding conversely to a 
certain dynamic cleavage in nature, i.e. converging lines in the 



116 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

"advance of nature 1 ' give rise to a grouping of points of departure 
retrospectively considered. So also it is with the class of surfaces 
of physical objects that have sent out light that reaches the eyes 
of an organism at any time. 

But this is not the whole story of the naturalness of the latter 
class. So far as we have gone, the only difference between the 
physical field of vision and the field of a camera, as we have 
defined them, is found in the difference between a camera and 
an organism with eyes. Is this the only difference? No! In the 
case of the indirect complex whose condition is an organism 
with eyes, the group, in addition to being a natural class con- 
sidered retrospectively, is a natural group from which all con- 
sideration of anything takes its departure. In fact, there would 
be no science of physics and no logical classification were there 
not in nature such a natural group. Whatever else the physicist 
is, he is an organism which under proper conditions has a physical 
field of vision as an integral natural group, and he begins his 
studies by starting from what is in that field of vision and in 
other fields similar in character. In other words, such sense- 
fields are the natural premises of all knowledge, and whatever 
later passes for knowledge may not contradict these premises. 
No other groupings which he later comes to recognize as natural 
may involve the denial of the epistemologically more funda- 
mental natural character of such groups. Groups of this latter 
sort are first in the order of knowing even though they are late 
in the order of being: they are the most "primitive" and most 
natural groups we know. We do not discover them by logical 
construction; we start from them as the aboriginally given. 
Later we discover by logical construction how to classify them. 
Nature has been kind to us in sparing us the futile labour of 
making a physical universe out of whole cloth. To adopt and 
adapt a splendid personification from Mr. Santayana (Scepticism 
and Animal Faith, p. 191), Nature says to Knowledge: "My 
child, there is a great world for thee to conquer, but it is a vast, 
an ancient, and a recalcitrant world. It yields a wonderful 
treasure to courage when courage is guided by art and respects 
the limits I have set to it. I should not have been so cruel as 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 117 

to give thee birth if there had been nothing for thee to master, 
nor so fatuous as to think thy task could be accomplished by 
one who had no foothold in the world to be won. In giving thee 
senses I give and will continue to give thee parts of that world, 
as vantage ground from which thou art to advance to thy 
conquest." 

A concept which has become familiar to all readers in the 
literature of relativity will aid us in formulating our theory, 
whether or not we accept the theory of relativity as valid. In 
this theory a spatio-temporal "interval" between any two events 
has zero-value if it is such that the same ray of light can be 
present at both events. Thus the event of the departure of a 
light-ray from the sun and the event of its arrival on the earth 
have a zero-interval between them, i.e. no interval at all. For 
relativity this interval is physically more fundamental than the 
time-lapse of eight minutes or the distance of ninety odd millions 
of miles separating the two events. Speaking relativistically, we 
may say that nature in our physical fields of vision includes 
surfaces which are separated by zero-interval; and the primitive 
unity of such fields is a unity that does not have to be undone 
when in physics we come to separate the events into time and 
space. Nature does not distort herself in giving us all these 
objects at once in space-time] it is we who are responsible for 
any mistake when later we come to the conclusion that what is 
thus given is all at once in physical time. The philosopher may 
find the greatest value of relativity in its insistence on the fact 
that the concept of physical simultaneity is a logical construction 
which comes about as a result of our operations of measurement 
of velocities. Physical simultaneity is a matter of definition; it 
is not a ' 'datum" given aboriginally in experience. Any classi- 
fication of events as physically simultaneous, if it is to have 
relevance to observation and experiment, may not make null 
and void the relation of spatio-temporal "at-onceness" in which 
events stand as they are given in the field of vision of the 
observer. 

Now in the physical field of vision the events which are at "zero- 
interval" from the conditioning organism have the relation that 



118 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

I shall name "visual simultaneity." When I see a star through 
the branches of a tree, the star and the branches are visually 
simultaneous, although in physical time they are separated by 
hundreds of years. There is no contradiction in this statement; 
those who find such contradiction either regard the seeing as a 
present act which has the star of long ago as its present object; 
else they fail to see that physical simultaneity is a matter of 
definition. Once recognize that the verb "to see" belongs to the 
class represented by the verb "to relate rather than to the 
class represented by the verb "to strike," and the difficulty of 
the first group of puzzled thinkers disappears. Similarity and 
posteriority can relate a man to his great-grandfather; in thus 
relating them they do not do something to the past now. What 
similarity and posteriority can be in the way of relations, there 
is no logical reason why vision cannot be. It relates an organism 
to what has physically preceded it. When this relation occurs, 
the organism is said to "see" the physical objects to which it 
is thus related. As against those who fail to see that physical 
simultaneity is a matter of definition, perhaps nothing argu- 
mentatively effective can be said. They have a self-evidencing 
intuition that is proof against dispute. 

A more mathematical way of stating what we have just said is 
to assert that what is called physical simultaneity is simultaneity 
treated mathematically, i.e. an event at any place is given a 
time-coordinate equal to the coordinates given to certain other 
events in other places. What I call visual simultaneity can be 
treated mathematically by a distribution of equal coordinates 
to a different set of events, the two distributions, however, retain- 
ing the same order of temporal sequence. The difference is 
analogous to the reference of points in a plane to two different 
frames of reference, one rectangular and the other oblique, both 
of them having their X-axes and their origins respectively 
coincident. Except for points on the X-axis, the abscissa of 
any point referred to one frame is different from that of the 
same point referred to the other frame; but the difference of 
reference does not disarrange the serial order of points in the 
X-direction. Even so the difference between physical time and 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 119 

visual time treated mathematically is a difference as to the 
events which at different places shall have the same time- 
coordinates as the events at the origin; it is not a difference as 
to the temporal order of the events. It is the same time-order 
that is visual and physical; but the same time referred to different 
temporal planes of simultaneity. By a plane of simultaneity is 
meant all the events at different places which are regarded as 
having equal time-coordinates. Any plane of simultaneity is 
logically as good as any other. The two planes of simultaneity, 
the one physical, the other visual, intersect at the physiological 
events that condition the physical field of vision. Just what 
these events are, it is not necessary nor is it as yet possible to 
state in detail. All that we need do is to say that somewhere 
along the line of physiological changes, beginning with the 
stimulation of the eyes and ending with muscular response, the 
planes of simultaneity of visual time and of physical time 
intersect. 

Before going farther it may be of help to contrast our theory 
with some others now held. Behaviourists make vision consist 
in the muscular processes which take place in the organism; 
our theory recognizes these processes and also their relevance to 
vision; but it denies that the relevance is an identity. The 
processes are one thing, the vision another. Without the processes, 
no vision; but the vision is not the processes. The American 
critical realists (in general), together with the happily non- 
American Mr. Broad, distinguish, indeed, between vision and 
the physiological processes that condition it: for them what is 
in the field of vision stands in spatial and temporal relations, 
but the space and time in vision are not the space and time of 
physics; the world of each organism's visual experience is a 
world of its own, both as regards qualities and seen relations. 
Mr. Russell takes such a world with all its qualities and seen 
relations and puts the whole thing in the physical space of the 
brain of the organism concerned. The view I have been presenting 
of the physical field of vision is more closely allied to that of 
the new realist than to any of the others. For instance, Mr, 
Holt (The Concept of Consciousness, p. 182) says: "We have 



120 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

seen that the phenomenon of response defines a cross-section of 
the environment without, which is a neutral manifold. Now this 
neutral cross-section outside of the nervous system, and com- 
posed of the neutral elements of physical and non-physical 
objects to which the nervous system is responding, by some 
specific response this neutral cross-section, I submit, coincides 
exactly with the list of objects of which we say that we are 
conscious/' Leave out reference to "non-physical objects" and 
"the neutral manifold/' and restrict the statement to the time 
and space relations of the physical objects which initiate physical 
processes that finally stimulate the organism through its end- 
organs to response, and the statement would express our view 
quite correctly. But when Mr. Holt goes on to say: "This neutral 
cross-section ... is consciousness/' I fail to follow. I should 
rather say that the consciousness in vision, for example, is the 
vision, which, as we have repeatedly observed, is the relation in 
which the organism stands to the objects in the cross-section 
defined. This, however, may be a mere difference in terminology. 
Before taking up the question of the qualities found in the 
physical visual field, we must consider some other problems. 
The physical field of vision is, of course, not our only sense-field. 
Physical objects stimulate the human organism through many 
sense-organs. When this occurs there is a physical field of sense- 
objects including all the objects that have initiated the stimula- 
tions. However it may be in infants, whose sense-fields I cannot 
investigate, my adult sense-field is unitary. To call a physical 
object in such a complex field a seen object and another a heard 
object is to imply a belief that the former is in the field because 
of my eyes, the latter because of my ears. But the heard objects 
are in the same space and the same time with the seen objects. If 
it is argued that this is the result of laboriously acquired co- 
ordinations in infancy, the statement may be true; for the sake 
of argument let us grant that it is true. From such a concession 
it does not necessarily follow that the space of sight and the 
space of hearing are originally different spaces. I suppose that 
infants, as well as grown people, who go to sleep in a seen familiar 
room and wake up in a seen unfamiliar one have to do a good 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 121 

deal of coordinating to get the two seen spaces connected into 
one visual space; and if preliminary coordinating is proof of 
lack of original identity of the spaces ultimately coordinated, 
an infant begins life with a good many more spaces than he has 
sense-organs. Not finding it necessary to have quite so many 
different spaces and times, I agree with Mr. Russell when he 
says: "The direct logical importance of investigations into the 
origins of our mental processes is nil." x And on that account I 
find of no logical value practically all the chapter toward the 
end of which this sentence occurs. Much of this chapter is devoted 
to the thesis: "In physics there is only one space, while in 
psychology there are several for each individual' '; the thesis is 
established by appeal to the fact that infants have to coordinate 
the originally different spaces of each sense-field. Mr. Russell 
admits that "an immense theoretical reconstruction was required 1 ' 
before the theory of relativity was achieved; and yet he himself 
accepts the objectively unitary character of the space-time of 
relativity. What was this theoretical reconstruction but a 
stupendous coordination. Coordination may result in the dis- 
covery of unity as well as in the production of unity. 

When we take into consideration not merely the physical 
field of vision but any integral physical field of sense, say of 
vision and of audition, we have a sensible simultaneity of objects, 
as in the case of hearing the whistle of a not too distant loco- 
motive while still seeing the steam coming from the whistle. 
In such a case the whistle heard is physically prior to the steam 
seen. This example shows that according to our theory the 
relativist's zero-interval cannot be identified with all sensible 
simultaneity. This is because the relativist deals almost exclu- 
sively with what Mr. Russell calls "sight-physics." * The corre- 
lation of sensible simultaneity with physical simultaneity requires 
consideration of the varying velocities of propagation from 
physical objects to the sense-organs of an organism. 

But not all objects in a sense-field are sensibly simultaneous. 

1 The Analysis of Matter, p, 154. The next two quotations made above 
are from pages 144 and 195. 
J Op. cit. pp. 160 ff. 



122 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Some are there as prior to others, even though some are there 
as simultaneous with others. The time therein is a stretch of 
time and not a durationless instant. The sensible stretch of 
time is what William James signalized as the "sensible present/ 1 7 
Unfortunately his description of it contained an inaccuracy 
which, I cannot but think, proved fatal in that it has led to 
many mistakes in recent philosophies. The passage in which 
this mistake occurred is so famous that full quotation is un- 
necessary. I will quote only one sentence, trusting to the reader 
to supply the context from memory. Speaking of this sensible 
present, James says: "We do not first feel one end and then feel 
the other after it." (I have italicized the words which seem to 
me to be mistaken.) It is generally just the other way around: 
we do first feel one end and then feel the other after it. For 
instance, in looking at an electric sign in which the bulbs are 
successively illuminated I see first one point of light and then 
another, and then another; whiles/i// seeing the first I come to 
see the second; while still seeing these two I come to see the 
third. The experience is not "a synthetic datum from the outset" 
in the sense that what I see when I see the third is exactly what 
I saw when first I saw the first. The seeing of all three becomes 
a synthetic datum when the third sign is seen as illuminated. 
The confusion perhaps arises from the fact that most specious 
presents follow upon other specious presents, each, when it is, 
being a synthetic datum. 

An analogy will make my point clear. Take a short tube, 
open at both ends, and pass it lengthwise through water. At 
any time there will be water in the tube, but some of the water 
will be just passing into it, and some just passing out of it, while 
between the two ends there will be water all of which is un- 
ambiguously within the tube. But of this water that toward 
the forward end entered the tube after that toward the rearward 
end; but after it has entered, it is in the tube together with the 
rest that is in the tube. The water in the forward end is analogous 
to what is later in any specious present; that in the rear end 
is analogous to what is earlier in the specious present; all the 
' The Principles of Psychology, I, 608 ff. 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 123 

water in the tube at any time is analogous to the whole of the 
specious present at any time ; the water lying in any perpendicular 
cross-section is analogous to what is sensibly simultaneous in 
the specious present. The priority of any object in a specious 
present with reference to any other object therein is due to its 
earlier entrance into the field. In general the specious present does 
not come by jumps, each replacing its predecessor in toto. There 
is continuity of sequence. This continuity is just the fact that 
there is at any time a hold-over to greet a new-comer. It is not 
continuity as defined by the mathematician. Royce and Santa- 
yana, each in his own way, has allowed himself to be misled 
by James on this point; thus the former got the totum simul of 
the Absolute Experience, and the latter the "speciousness" of 
the specious present and the changelessness of change. 

This character of sensible continuity, with sensible priority, 
sensible simultaneity and sensible posteriority in the continuity, 
is doubtless due to the fact that the physiological processes 
that are the condition of the field have what is called an akoluthic 
character. They are not physically instantaneous, but have a 
duration in which they wax and wane. While these processes con- 
tinue, the physical objects that through intermediaries initiated 
the processes remain in the field. Here, then, we have an 
important difference between sensible time and physical time, in 
addition to the difference we have already noted between physical 
and sensible simultaneity. The measured physical duration of 
the physical object may not be equal to its sensible duration. 
A light-flash that occupies at its source an infinitesimal fraction 
of a physical second may occupy a second in sensible time. 
Does this difference force us to say that the two times cannot 
be identical? Not unless we say that the time in which a dead 
man remains a father-in-law is not the same time as that in 
which he lived. 1 

Let us now consider the relation between physical space and 

1 A deceased father of a woman remains the father-in-law of her husband 
so long as she remains the latter's wife. The father-in-law may have died 
at the age of twenty-two, and may later remain a father-in-law lor fifty 
years. 



124 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the space of a sensible field. The classic objection to a realistic 
theory of sensible space is based on the differences in shape and 
size a penny has as seen from different points. It is assumed by 
objectors that a physical penny in physical space is only circular; 
but the seen penny is rarely (if ever) circular; the conclusion is 
that the seen space of the penny is not the physical space of the 
penny. Mr. Broad I has stated this objection as forcibly as any 
one. He distinguishes between the "sensible form" of the penny, 
which is, of course, a variable, and the "geometrical property" 
which is exclusively circular, and which is an "intrinsic" property 
of the penny. The latter can be defined, the former can be 
identified only by exemplification. Now presumably a definition 
for Mr. Broad ties down what is defined to exclusive conformity 
with the definition. That the circularity of a penny is a geo- 
metrical property of it I do not deny. I cannot, however, concede 
the claim that it is an intrinsic property, if by that is meant a 
property the penny has without regard to relations in which it 
stands to other things, or a property it has in all relations to 
other things. The classical definition of circularity is most 
obviously a relational definition; the definition tells what a 
circle is in terms of measurement by a rigid measuring-rod, applied 
in the plane of the circle; Euclidean equality of distance has 
no meaning except in terms of measurement. The property thus 
turns out to be extrinsic with a vengeance. This is not to deny 
that the circle has the property Mr. Broad's definition gives it; 
it does have that property, but it has it only in a certain reference. 
Apart from that reference, the property is meaningless. Euclid's 
geometry was largely metrical; but there is a Euclidean pro- 
jective geometry. The projection of a circle upon another plane 
is as much a geometrical property of a circle as its metrical 
properties within its own plane; and its projection on such 
planes is as much a physical property of a physical circle 
as its "circularity," as the amount of light reflected from a 
penny in different directions proves. Try it on the camera. As 
has been often pointed out, the shape of an object is the shape 
it has where it is, but it is not that shape just by itself without 
1 The Mind and its Place in Nature, pp. 170 ff. 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 125 

reference to anything else; it has, where it is, different shapes 
from different places. What, for instance, is the "intrinsic" 
shape of a man's face ? The shape it has in profile or vis-d-vis ? 
Is a tube round or straight? These and many other similar 
questions lead one to be very suspicious of "intrinsic" geometrical 
properties. An "intrinsic" property is intrinsic only when one is 
so familiar with a standard reference that one uses it absent- 
mindedly. 

What is true of shape is also true of size. Is the sun large or 
small as compared with the moon? In terms of linear measure- 
ment it is vastly larger; in terms of angular measurement made 
from some spot on the earth as the apex of the angle, it is about 
the same size. So it is with sizes in general. A man at any distance 
from you is physically, from where you are, twice as small in 
any dimension as he is when at half that distance. Again, try 
it on the camera. Our usual method of measurement of familiar 
objects is by superposition of a measuring-rod; but this is only 
one way of measuring; and the size got by any measurement is 
always relative to the way in which the measurement is made. 1 

What has been said in the last two paragraphs is not equivalent 
to the assertion that a thing has no properties. So far is it from 
having no properties, that it has many more than any standard 
description recognizes. It has all the properties that in any 
relation it has, but it has each only in the relevant relation. 
The contention that properties are relative is not the contention 
that properties are relations, as Thomas Hill Green apparently 
supposed. Just as a man is a father in one relation and a son in 
another, without being the relation of fatherhood or of sonship, 
so an object is big in one relation and small in another without 
being the relation of bigness or smallness. So much is anything 
what it is only in relation to other things, that I find it difficult 
to believe that any one thing just by itself could be even that 
one thing. 

It has been urged against the view which identifies physical 
and sensible space, that when light comes to our eyes through 
<a refracting medium the object is not, in the space of the field 

1 See Bridgman's The Logic of Modern Physics, especially pp. 66 ff, 



126 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

of sense, where it is in physical space; hence the two spaces 
are not one space. Here we have in another form the same 
problem. A physical object as a source of light arriving at another 
physical object is for the latter something that electro- 
magnet ically was in the direction from which the light came. 
In other words, direction in physical space is not just one simple 
thing. We have accustomed ourselves to a standardized descrip- 
tion of physical space conceived on Euclidean principles, and 
when we find that our description does not fit the facts, we say 
that the facts are not in physical space. The sensible brokenness 
of a "straight" stick in water is a case in point. The "new 
realists" have not wearied of pointing out that in the optical 
space of the camera the stick is just as much broken as it is in 
sensible space. Physical space is not a rigid container of physical 
objects. It is a system of relations, and what holds of physical 
objects in one of these relations does not necessarily hold of 
them in some other of these relations. There is no reason for 
believing that the visual space of physical objects for human 
beings differs from the optical space of the same physical objects 
for cameras placed where the human beings are. 

We are now ready to take up the question of the seen qualities 
of physical objects. Is the seen redness of a physical object, for 
instance, a quality that belongs to the physical object when it 
is not in a field of vision? Most of the arguments used to prove 
that it does not so belong are based on the theory that a physical 
object, if it has any colour at all, can have only one colour at 
any one spot on it at any one time. That theory is a huge assump- 
tion. Colour is a relative quality; it is relative to the kind of light 
that is emitted or reflected from the coloured object. A "red" 
object is not red in the dark, nor in a room lighted only from 
without, whose windows absorb or reflect all the red rays. The 
same spot of a "red" object may be red from one direction and 
not from another according to the kind of light it reflects in 
the two directions. The experience of a jaundiced person proves 
nothing, since the crystalline lens of such a person may have 
become temporarily impervious to most of the light-rays. If 
redness is a physical quality, the red object is red where it is, 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 127 

but that is not the whole story; it is red where it is from other 
places, as Mr. Russell urges in another connection. The only 
facts that give me pause when I am inclined to assume that 
redness is a physical quality that an object would have from 
the place where an eye is even if the eye were replaced by some 
photo-sensitive object, are the facts of colour-blindness. If we 
only knew enough of the physiology of colour-blindness, we 
could in all probability resolve the question. But I understand 
that no theory of colour-blindness is adequate, meanwhile, is it 
not wiser to let the question remain unsettled than to settle it 
dogmatically? 

If it be said, as it often is, that the physicist has proved that 
physically no object has colour, I should reply with the question: 
"When and how did he prove it?" In his mathematical treat- 
ment of the physical world he ignores qualitative redness and 
replaces it with frequencies of wave-length, after he has got 
started on his mathematical equations. If this be proof, then a 
surveyor, in ignoring the fertility of the soil or the mineral 
deposits underneath, proves that there are no such things, when 
his problem is only to find the boundaries and the area of a plot 
of ground. What the physicist is justified in ignoring in the 
physical world is not necessarily non-physical unless we adopt 
Mr. Russell's convenient definition of a physical object as what 
physics is concerned with. In this sense X-rays and many other 
things became physical objects only a short time ago; and so 
far as we know colours may some of these days become physical 
qualities. 

I am content to leave the problem unsolved for the reason 
that, unlike the new realists, I do not think that we can success- 
fully maintain that everything appearing in a field of vision is 
physical. It perhaps will have been observed that heretofore I 
have spoken of "physical fields of vision." This unusual turn of 
expression was purposively adopted in view of the fact that 
there are other fields of vision, as for instance in dreams and in 
delirium. While I believe that there is every reason to suppose 
that in normal waking experience the surfaces of physical objects 
are bodily in the field of vision, there is also every reason to 



128 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

suppose that they are not always the only things in the field. 
Visual images are frequently there. I am credibly informed that 
in some fields of vision with an alcoholic organism as condition 
there are snakes (or is it rats?) as well as physical pyjamas and 
doctors and nurses, whereas from the fields whose conditions 
are the organisms called doctors and nurses the snakes are 
absent, but the pyjamas are present therein. From personal 
experience I can testify that just now there is in my field of 
vision a something (much like an old friend of mine) sitting in 
a chair, and I am sure it would not appear in a field of a camera 
placed anywhere in the room, although the chair could be made 
to appear in it. Such a thing I call a visual image. 

In such cases I find that the seen spatial and temporal rela- 
tions between the image and physical things are just the kind 
of relations that obtain between physical things and physical 
things. I therefore say that images are in the same visual space 
and time as physical objects. Why should I not? They are not 
physical objects, but that is no reason why they should not be 
where they are seen to be; in fact, it is a reason why they can 
be there. In general, dealing macroscopically, we say that no 
two physical objects are in the same place at the same time. 
This is an empirically ascertained fact, not an a priori necessity. 
But the very same empirical basis that justifies me in saying 
that we cannot put a physical chair where a physical table is 
without displacing the latter, justifies me in saying that an 
image can be where a physical object is without displacing the 
latter. Shakespeare was true to the kind of life Macbeth was 
leading, when in Macbeth's field of vision he put Banquo's 
ghost, shaking his gory locks at him, in the physical "place 
reserved" for the living general. The difference between physical 
things and images is not that they are in different spaces, but 
that they behave differently in the same space. A physical 
object is to be defined in terms of other relations than the 
merely spatial and temporal ones. These other relations are 
dynamical. This is the reason why we say that Banquo's ghost 
was not physical. If it had been physical, it would have reflected 
light and thus got into the field of vision of anyone whose 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 129 

normally functioning eyes were directed toward the place 
reserved. The question often asked of a holder of my theory, 
"Why, if your image is where you say it is, do I not see it when 
I look there?" is very simply and consistently answered by 
saying that the reason is to be found in the fact that my image 
is not a physical object and therefore does not send light to 
your eyes. For the same reason my visual images cannot be 
photographed and my auditory images cannot be phonographed. 
The fact that they cannot be recorded by physical instruments 
proves that they are not physical; it does not prove that they 
are not where I see them. I cannot see any reason why the 
space-time which physical objects inhabit may not have as 
temporary denizens at seen places all the images that all the 
gentle reveries and wild ravings of men (and of animals if 
necessary) have found in it. "There may be more things in 
heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philo- 
sophy." The recognition of them as there does no harm if they 
are recognized for what they are, such stuff as dreams are made 
of. They are where they are as the result of physiological processes. 
With regard to them it would seem as if an epiphenomenalistic 
interpretation would hold. There is no physical reason why an 
alcoholized physiological organism may not give rise to such 
physically ineffective and therefore non-physical things as 
hallucinated snakes or rats which, when they are, are where 
they are seen to be. 

But where did the dream-objects of last night find their place 
in the space in which physical objects are? I don't know; but 
if the unconscious victim of an accident is taken to an unfamiliar 
hospital, can he say, when he comes to, where in physical space 
he is? Is his inability to say a proof that he is not somewhere 
in physical space? I rather suspect that the objects of a dream 
are in the space neighbouring the dreamer's body; but there 
are sometimes not enough data to make a good map of the 
locality. An adequate account of the whole matter, including 
the question as to the whereabouts of Shakespeare's Coast of 
Bohemia, would take more space than we have left. We may 
conclude our discussion of this topic by saying that while there 

VOL. II I 



130 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

are many problems requiring more detailed treatment, a sense- 
field in general includes physical objects and objects not physical, 
all in the same space and time, and none of them, in general, in 
the brain of the organism which is the condition of the field. The 
latter are in the brain only by metonymy; what is in the brain 
is only the physiological condition of their being in the sense- 
field. They are "functions'' of the nervous system, not in the 
sense that they are nervous processes, but in the sense that they 
depend on the nervous system for their being, and that they 
change with changes in the nervous system. They are not 
"functions" in the sense of being acts that the nervous system 
performs. The ambiguity of the word "function" has led to 
many mistakes. 

Images are not the only transients in space-time which thus 
depend on the physiological organism. It is not necessary to 
list such "functions"; we may name a few. Desires and emotions 
belong to this class. Specific processes take place in an organism 
when it desires and when it has emotions; but these physical 
(physiological) processes are not the only "desires" or "emotions." 
Physiological hunger is different from hunger as it appears in 
the field of sense. Theoretically a physiologist with appropriate 
instruments could discover the former; only the organism itself 
discovers the latter. In this case certain nerves are stimulated 
by the processes taking place in the intestines as the result of 
lack of food, and at some time in the course of the nervous 
excitation thus arising the quality known as hunger appears in 
the sense-field. The hunger that I sense no one else can have 
in his field of sense; he may see my grimaces and my writhings; 
he may by proper devices discover glandular secretions. But 
none of these things nor all of them added together are the 
hunger as it is in my sense-field. There is no profit in discussing 
the question which of these things is the "hunger," That question 
is merely a lexicographical question; and lexicographically either 
the outwardly observable facts or the inwardly sensed fact is 
"hunger." The point is that the proposed reservation of the 
word "hunger" for what is outwardly observable, if adopted, 
does not abolish the quality of hunger as it is in the sense-field 



EVANDER BRADLEY McGILVARY 131 

of the organism whose physiological processes and secretions can 
be detected by another. 

Unfortunately it is not possible in this paper to deal with 
perceptual fields as distinct from sense-fields, nor with thinking. 
The rest of this paper, according to the specifications of the 
editors, must deal with autobiographical details, stressing the 
influences which, so far as I know, have been most powerful in 
determining my philosophical thought. My first impulse toward 
philosophy was a reaction against theology, in which I had been 
schooled. Foremost among the positive influences I take pleasure 
in naming the association I had with Professor G. H. Howison. 
I have strayed far from the Kantian school in which in his day 
he was a dominating personality; but, as Nietzsche said, one ill 
requiteth a master if one remain merely a pupil. I owe to Professor 
Howison my first living interest in philosophy, and also my 
acquaintance with Hegel which has proved most useful. Anyone 
who has studied Hegel sympathetically and thoroughly may 
violently revolt against his system; but rebels often carry away 
much that is positive from that against which they rebel. It 
would be a hopeless task to name the philosophers of the past 
to whom I owe much. For the last twenty-five or thirty years 
the debts of which I am most conscious are to my colleagues 
like Creighton and to my other contemporaries; those to whom 
I owe most are those with whom I do not find myself in greatest 
agreement. I had already begun to work toward a realistic 
philosophy before I became acquainted with the collaborated 
volume The New Realism, but the writings of the members of 
this group and a paper by Woodbridge helped me very greatly 
in my subsequent thinking. Perhaps it was William James, 
whom I met in 1897 when he delivered in Berkeley, California, 
his famous address, "Philosophical Conceptions and Practical 
Results/' who first of all set me to questioning the satisfactoriness 
of idealism; at any rate I should name him as the most influential 
factor in giving direction to my thinking for the next decade 
and perhaps ever since. Naturally, John Dewey came next in 
the order of time as well as in the order of power. The persistent 
criticism with which I have confronted these two men in my 



132 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

private thinking is the best proof of the influence they have 
had on me. To pass by the name of Bergson would be to do 
him a serious injustice without his knowing or caring. Einstein 
and the relativists, Whitehead and Russell, have been the latest 
influences. My greatest regret in my present philosophical work 
is that I have not had an adequate training in the higher mathe- 
matics and in mathematical physics. If I mistake not, the meta- 
physics of the next generation, as that of the seventeenth century, 
will be in the hands of those who have command of a knowledge 
of mathematical physics. 

In naming my creditors I should be ungrateful if I were to 
omit mention of my former and present pupils from whom I 
have learned more than they have learned from me. When 
"blue books'' come in, and I am tempted to assent to the 
cynicism of the professor who said that a university would be a 
glorious place to work in were it not for the students, I have 
only to look back upon my former pupils to see that it is the 
living contact with young minds that perhaps alone can keep 
an older mind from growing hopelessly senile. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

"Presupposition Question in Hegel's Logic/ 1 Philosophical Review, 

vol. vi, 1897. 

"The Dialectical Method," Mind, n.s., vol. vii, 1898. 
"Altruism in Hume's Treatise," Philosophical Review, vol. xii, 1903. 
"Realism and the Physiological Argument," and two other articles 

on Realism, Journal of Philosophy, vol. iv, 1907. 
"The Fringe in James's Psychology the Basis of Logic," Philo- 

sophical Review, vol. xx, 1911. 
"Relation of Consciousness and Object in Sense-Perception," 

Philosophical Review, vol. xxi, 1912. 
"Time and the Experience of Time," Philosophical Review, vol. xxiii, 



"Warfare of Moral Ideals," Hibbert Journal, vol. xiv, 1915-16. 
" Times, New and Old," University of California Publications in 
Philosophy, vol. vi, No. 4, 1928. 



CONFESSIONS OF AN ANIMISTIC 
MATERIALIST 

By WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 

Born 1873; Professor of Philosophy, Barnard College, Columbia 
University, New York. 



CONFESSIONS OF AN ANIMISTIC MATERIALIST 

THE first question of a philosophic kind that I can remember 
considering concerned the nature of the soul and its relation to 
the body. Having been informed by my mother that the soul was 
that which made you laugh and cry and think and move, I asked 
if you could get it out by boring very carefully up through the 
foot and leg until you reached it somewhere in the chest. To 
this question my mother was giving a hesitant and somewhat 
puzzled negative, when my father broke in impatiently with the 
warning that I must never think of the soul in that way, that 
it was not at all the kind of thing that had a place inside the 
body from which it could be fished out. 

I mention this little incident of early childhood because the 
question I asked then is the kind of question I have been asking 
ever since, and the reproof for it administered by my father is 
the same reproof that I have received many times from my 
teachers and colleagues in philosophy. 

I feel myself to be a thing in a world of things. And the thing 
that I am does not seem to me to be the thing that my body 
is. The two are alike in being substantive rather than adjectival. 
They are alike also in being agents and patients in space and 
time, but they are contrasted with respect to the laws and 
processes pertaining to them. The intimate union in existence 
of these entities so disparate in essence has become to me ever 
more mysterious. All my thinking has been oriented with regard 
to the psycho-physical problem. And blessed or cursed by this 
"animistic complex," and goaded on by it, I have sought con- 
tinuously for an intellectual theory that will bridge a dualism 
imposed upon me by feeling or intuition and increasingly con- 
firmed by the evidences of experience. 

Next to the metaphysical question of mind and body there 
came, and continued, the religious problem. Church services in 
the early morning with my mother gave me a poignant sense of 
the beauty of the Christian doctrine. Sunday-school and the 
atmosphere of a small New England community gave me an 
equally poignant sense of the falsity and incredible ugliness of 



136 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the authoritarian and ascetic aspects of that same doctrine. 
Cool, condescending approval or an equally cool and tolerant 
contempt, which are the usual alternative attitudes toward 
Christianity that are prescribed by the "genteel tradition" in 
American philosophy, have never done justice to its baffling 
mixture of what is best with what is worst. Love and enthusiasm 
for one half of the Church, righteous hate and contempt for 
the other, are sternly called for. 

Somewhere between twelve and fifteen I read Bellamy's 
Looking Backward, Abbott's Flatland, and articles on theosophy 
by Blavatsky and others. Bellamy, in addition to making me a 
socialist, made me realize that the business of the good life 
was an institutional as well as an individual affair. Flatland and 
the theosophy stimulated and made more explicit what might 
be called my metaphysical interests. The characteristically theo- 
sophic attempt to explain the mind and its doings in terms of 
material or pseudo-material categories appealed to my animistic 
attitude, and seemed to me then, as indeed it does now, to be 
the most delightful of pastimes. 

It was not until the middle of my sophomore year that my 
formal education took on significance. I suddenly found myself 
suspended from college, and very miserably I made visits to my 
various professors to get instructions for the enforced period 
of home work. Josiah Royce, whose course in the History of 
Philosophy I had been taking with some real interest, received 
me kindly, and inquired what I planned to fit myself for. I replied 
that I didn't know, but supposed that I should have to be a 
lawyer. Whereupon he asked me encouragingly if I had ever 
thought of the academic career. I never had, and I hardly knew 
the meaning of the phrase, but the fact that here was a great 
man showing me sympathy and faith in my dark hour stirred 
me unforgettably. By hard, eager study I passed well the final 
examination in his course. It had opened a new world to me. 
Everything was changed, and I was happy. In my Junior and 
Senior years in college, and in the three years in the graduate 
school that followed, I gave my whole time, so far as I was 
allowed, to philosophy. The classes suddenly ceased to be 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 137 

tedious interludes between parties, and became themselves the 
most exciting of parties. 

Everyone knows the extraordinary company who dispensed 
philosophy at Harvard in the late 'nineties: Palmer, James and 
Royce, Miinsterberg and Santayana. Each of them had a dis- 
tinctive philosophy, and each of them preached it with the force 
of conviction. Their methods of teaching were almost as different 
as their viewpoints. Palmer's lectures were incomparably the 
most finished, both as to content and to form, of all that I have 
ever heard; and whether because of, or in spite of, their literary 
perfection, their pedagogical effectiveness was extraordinary. 
I had the good luck to be his assistant or reader, and so 
had an opportunity to see the progress in philosophic com- 
prehension made by the large group of undergraduates in 
his course, each of whom was required to submit four papers 
during the year. Quite apart from this ideal of pedagogical 
technique, and in addition to many specific illuminations, I 
owe to Palmer the realization that a naturalistic relativism, 
as regards the varying content of the good, is quite compatible 
with a Kantian rigorism as regards the invariant form of right 
or duty. 

The classroom lectures of James were in striking contrast to 
those of Palmer, and, indeed, to the polish of his own formal 
papers. He would utter his thoughts spontaneously, just as they 
came. As a result his talks were most uneven in quality. The 
roughness and irregularity were, however, more than balanced 
by the simplicity and directness of his conversational manner. 
It was an inspiration to see and hear a great man work out his 
own thoughts in the presence of his students. The informal and 
colloquial speech coming from a scholar and a genius possessed 
a peculiar piquancy. I have seen him stop in the middle of a 
sentence with some such remark as: "By George, Mr. Smith, 
perhaps you were right, after all, in what you said a few 
minutes ago; I had never really thought of that/' Mr. Smith thus 
honoured, would, of course, become the envy of all of us and 
the devoted slave of his master. Nor would he realize that James, 
with characteristic and unconscious generosity, had probably 



138 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

read into his comment a richness and meaning of which Smith 
himself had been quite innocent. 

The parts of James's philosophy that concerned his Pragma- 
tism and Radical Empiricism left me uninterested or actually 
repelled, but to the more mystical and less explicitly developed 
phases of his thought I owe much. His conception of the sub- 
conscious and hidden energies of men, his Transmission hypo- 
thesis, his defence of indeterminism and of a finite God, I greedily 
accepted. Taken in connection with the Tychism of his friend, 
Charles Peirce, they furnished me with a large part of my philo- 
sophic faith. For Peirce himself I had a kind of worship. While 
his intellect was cold and clear, his metaphysical imagination was 
capricious, scintillating, and unbridled, and his whole personality 
was so rich and mysterious that he seemed a being apart, a 
super-man. I would rather have been like him than like anyone 
else I ever met. And on the two or three occasions in which he 
carefully criticized and then praised some of my student writing 
I was transported with happiness. 

It is to Santayana especially that I owe my realization of 
Plato's truth. I took his courses at about the same time that I 
read Huxley's Evolution and Ethics and Stevenson's P-ulvis ct 
Umbra. In all three the teaching was to the effect that value 
did not depend on existence, nor right on might, nor ethics on 
religion. An atheistic nature red with tooth and claw could in 
no sense absolve man from his obligation to actualize ideals of 
beauty and goodness; nor could it deprive him of the consolation 
of knowing that those ideals were always and eternally there, 
be the world what it might. The fact that I did not share the 
pessimism of Huxley and Santayana as to the existing world in 
no way lessened my debt of gratitude. 

Another thing I got from Santayana's courses was support and 
confirmation of my temperamental belief in a world of substances. 
Hegel's hideous slogan, "Not substance, but subject/' so fertile 
in sterilities of every kind, had been pretty generally adopted 
by professional philosophers, and it was a relief to hear Santa- 
yana, who had gone through that epistemological hell with his 
common sense unscathed, talk delightfully and quietly about 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 139 

the various substances of which the world might conceivably 
be composed. 1 

It was, however, to Josiah Royce that my debt was greatest, 
though in another sense it was also least. He taught me almost 
all that I know about the world's great philosophers, and yet in 
his own philosophy there was hardly anything that seemed to 
me true. His lectures on the history of metaphysics were glorious 
affairs. He not only made the various systems clear in themselves, 
but he portrayed their inter-relations so luminously and with 
such originality and depth of insight that the whole course of 
speculative thought was presented in a series of magnificent 
vistas and then given the unity of a single great picture of the 
human mind objectified. He had an unexampled power of 
making abstract ideas concrete and almost sensuously vivid, It 
was the ideas themselves rather than the biographical details 
or even the identities of their authors that he emphasized; 
and I think all his students were impressed with the fact that, 
however it may be in other history, in the history of philosophy, 
at least, it is not the who's who but the what's what that really 
matters. I not only got from Royce my knowledge and apprecia- 
tion of philosophy, but I got from him the kindest and most 
painstaking assistance in working out my own philosophic 
problems. He gave me this technical help through my five years 
of advanced study, and he accompanied it with continuous 
personal interest and affectionate counsel. He had, moreover, 
started me going, and trusted me when I was down and out. I 
owed everything to him, and it seemed mean and disloyal for me 
not to become his disciple. He was my dear teacher, and I longed 
to call him master, but I couldn't because his idealistic premises 
seemed to me false. Despite this I felt the tug of the will to 
believe wherever I could find elements within my teacher's 
philosophy that did not seem definitely false. And in a system 
so rich there were, of course, many such elements. I remember 
particularly the hypothesis about the varying time-spans in 

1 My first philosophic article, "A Plea for Soul Substance" (Psycho- 
logical Review, November 1899), was written with his kind advice and 
encouragement. 



140 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

nature put forward in the second volume of The World and the 
Individual, and how I jumped at it with almost tearful gratitude 
as a clear good thought that might even be true. For it was a 
new and interesting contribution to the great pan-psychist 
tradition. It could be studied and appraised on its own merits 
in the light of what was known and guessed about the world. 
And it did not in the least depend upon the monstrous premise 
on which the rest of the book was based, that that great nature, 
in which we are such recent and humble participants, is itself 
the product of our social consciousness and of the funny little 
techniques of communication which we have developed. 

My doctor's thesis, formidably entitled An Introduction to the 
Ontological Implicates of Practical Reason, was suggested by 
Kant's Critique and by Hegel's Phenomenology. Sheldon and I 
worked a great deal together, and we each felt that the principle 
of ncgativitat was inadequate to the great enterprise of cate- 
gorial deduction which, translated into modern terms, meant 
the search for a principle of hierarchical organization in the 
domain of subsistence or essence. We were cheerfully confident 
of being able to remedy the defect, Sheldon took the principle 
of the Self-Repeater and I took the principle of growth or increase, 
perhaps suggested by Bergson's duree to which James had in- 
troduced us. Royce christened my principle the Picon, and helped 
me with his customary generous kindness to lick the thing into 
shape. I supplemented my revision of the Hegelian deduction 
of the categories with an adaptation of Kant's treatment of the 
sense of duty as revealing a reality more ultimate than anything 
contained in the world of sense-perception, and attempted to 
show that in the experience of moral obligation the Pleon re- 
vealed itself in its true colours as the principle of reality itself. 
The thesis was long, and must have been pretty awful as judged 
by contemporary standards ; but it was fun to write, and it got 
me the degree. 

The following year I secured my first regular job under Pro- 
fessor Howison in the University of California. Howison, like 
Royce, had a variant of post-Kantian idealism, but it was more 
original than Royce's, though not nearly so well organized and 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 141 

supported. It was a sort of Fichtean monadism in which God 
was no Absolute, but merely primus inter pares, and the world 
was the phenomenal manifestation of the society of eternal 
persons who, by timelessly recognizing one another and one 
another's recognitions of one another, etc., a la Leibniz, created 
the time process and generally kept things going. The pluralism 
was in refreshing contrast to the anthropophagous absolutes of 
Royce and Bradley, and to its author, at any rate, it had come 
as a genuine apperfu. He preached it with fiery and unflagging 
earnestness, and so great was the force of his personality that 
people all over the Pacific Coast began and have continued to 
study the philosophy of German Idealism. The spirit at Berkeley 
was very different from that at Harvard. Under Howison, 
philosophy was not a fencing-match in which friendly gentlemen 
exchanged playful thrusts and courteously applauded their 
adversaries. It was a grim thing of life and death for the soul, a 
veritable religion in which either you were orthodox (Howisonian), 
or you were damned. I with my realism was mostly damned, and 
would have been completely had it not been that Howison 
was really two persons a grand inquisitor who would burn 
your body to save your soul and also one of the kindest men alive. 
I was lucky enough to win his affection and not only his pro- 
fessional condemnation, so for four years he kept me on, scolding 
me angrily for my rotten views and even warning his students 
against my courses, and then, together with dear Mrs. Howison, 
showering me and my family with every sort of friendly kindness 
and material help. 

It was for me a strange, hard-working time, and in striking 
contrast to the dreaming and brooding years at Cambridge. I 
learned to teach, and found I could do it all right, which was a 
great relief, because both I and my Harvard teachers had had 
grave doubts about my being able to. I formed a friendship with 
Overstreet, who was at that time devoted to the study of Plotinus 
and in high favour with Howison, and that helped me as it has 
ever since. I took two interesting courses, one with Professor 
Slate in physics and one with Professor Stringham in mathematics. 
The course with Slate was a splendid one, and started me reading 



142 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

hard such books on science as I could understand. Stringham's 
course had an even stronger effect. He was a man much like 
Peirce. He had a Pythagorean sense for the things that really 
count, and a Lewis Carroll humour. I had no ear for music, 
but I think I got from his functions and series the kind of experi- 
ence that musicians must get from their music. The numbers had 
always had for me an almost pathological fascination, and an 
almost tangible objectivity. To regard the number 37, for 
example, as the product of a human mind, a result of the count- 
ing activity by which we reached it, seemed not only false but 
idiotic. The numbers stand in vast and infinite array with all 
their still more multitudinous inter-relations full of unending and 
delightful surprises. They are what they are, and must through 
all time be what they have been, more steadfast than the stars 
and more clear and beautiful than existing things can ever hope 
to be. It would be easier and less absurd to suppose that Baedeker 
had by his descriptions created the Jungfrau at which I am now 
looking than to suppose that the ephemeral mathematicians of 
this planet create by their technique of procedure the timeless 
truths which they discover. 

Stringham's course revived all my old interest in mathematics, 
and the result was disastrous, for I became an addict and began 
to neglect my philosophy in order to play amateurishly with the 
new problems. Cardan's solution of the Cubic seemed intolerably 
complicated, and I got the feeling that the ease with which 
equational knots of any degree could be tied must mean that 
an equally general formula lor untieing them must exist. On 
that presumably hopeless quest I spent days and nights un- 
dissuaded by the kindly warning of my mathematical colleagues 
that the general equations of even the fifth degree had been 
actually proved to be insoluble by the ordinary methods which 
I was using. Then also there were the several simple-seeming 
series for the summation of which no formula had yet been found; 
and always, and best of all, there was the ancient lure of the primes. 
I suppose it was vanity or laziness or an unacknowledged dis- 
trust of my own competency to master the real stuff I needed 
that prevented me from fitting myself by serious study for this 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 143 

new game. I preferred instead to wait until the house was quiet, 
and then like a secret drinker unlock my cupboard and take 
out with guilty joy, not the good little black bottle, but the 
nice blank book in which I kept my scribblings, and hold high 
revel with myself through the night, exploring the lovely grottos 
in which the roots of my equations lurked, bound by mysterious 
threads to combinations of the known and visible coefficients 
on the surface up above. In the more than twenty-five years in 
which I have indulged this vice I have discovered at least I 
think I have discovereda few odd and pretty things, though 
certainly not enough as yet to justify the hours filched from 
philosophy. 

In spite of this disastrous by-product of my work with String- 
ham, and perhaps partly because of it, but still more because of 
the course with Slate and the reading which grew out of it, I began 
to take realism with a new seriousness. Science was discovering 
most exciting things. With the atoms being not only arranged 
in families, but actually caught and counted, it seemed a piece 
of pedantic insolence for philosophers who knew nothing of the 
new work, and cared nothing for it, to label the atoms and their 
electronic constituents as "vicious abstractions from the organic 
unity of experience," or similar barren nonsense. If philosophy 
was to play its historic role it must acquaint itself with the new 
truths and exploit whatever speculative possibilities they con- 
tained. Idealism began to seem to me, not just a falsity to be 
neglected, but a positive menace debauching the minds of the 
youths who studied it. There was need for a definite campaign 
to deliver philosophy from the fog of confusion that threatened 
to obliterate it. This feeling as to the increasing importance of 
getting the epistemological situation properly cleared up, not as 
an end in itself, but as an indispensable prerequisite to a worth- 
while philosophy, made me glad to accept the call to Columbia 
in 1903. 

The new place was quite different in atmosphere from either 
Harvard or Berkeley, and wonderfully stimulating. Sheldon was 
there, and we could resume both our golf and our duets in ulti- 
mate romantic metaphysics. Woodbridge was as realistic as I 



144 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

was myself perhaps more realistic at least as concerned the 
world of concrete existence. And it was almost disconcerting to 
find that what had for so long been my daring and dangerous 
heresy was now taken by the head of my department as a mere 
matter of course. And yet there were moments even in those 
early days when I had misgivings that the new realistic accord 
was itself not so close as it appeared and as I wanted it to be. 
For Woodbridge seemed to have nothing of that inner veil of 
sensation through which we all must pass to reach the outer 
world. When a distant star would hit him in the eye with its light, 
his body would bow or gesture in the direction from which the 
light had come ; and he would say in effect : "That is my perception 
of the star voila toutl" What could it mean to identify the 
publicly observable bodily antecedents and consequents of an 
experience with the experience itself, the latter being obviously 
private and not observable by others ? 

It was the first case of acute behaviourism that I had seen, and 
the first, I believe, that existed. To believe in the outer world 
was indeed very good, but to purchase that belief at the cost 
of denying the inner world was too high a price even for realism. 
The baby had been emptied out with the bath. But even though 
the theory were as queer as it seemed it was original and never 
put forward before. And in philosophy, at least, we should do 
everything once. So I was not very much troubled if my friend, 
for some unaccountable reason, chose to make believe that his 
own sensations were non-existent. Moreover, Descartes had tried 
this theory on the animals, and it was a pretty sporting thing 
for a man to be willing to try it out on himself. 

Under the stimulus of this new and, to me, delightful associa- 
tion I changed from the representative or dualistic theory of 
perception to a presentative or monistic theory. Not that I ever 
doubted the existence of my own mental states and their location 
inside my skull, but I got to believe that the objects immediately 
present in perception were not those states but their meanings 
or implicates, which as such could coincide (though they need 
not), not only in essence, but in position and date with the things 
and events in the extra-cranial world. The states that do this 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 145 

revealing are not themselves revealed. They are not motions, 
but they are describable in physical terms. What kind of event 
it is that can reveal events at other places and times than its 
own is one phase of the psycho-physical problem. That intra- 
cerebral states can and do reveal without creating such events 
is sufficient for epistemology. 

Beginning about 1910 there came the association with Perry, 
Holt, and the others which resulted in the publication of The New 
Realism. We set out with high hope of success, confident in one 
another and in the sympathy of our big brothers in Europe, 
Russell, Moore, and Meinong. We wanted, first of all, to introduce 
into philosophy the two methods that had been so profitably 
employed in science: the method of co-operative work and the 
method of isolating problems and tackling them one by one. 
And in addition to these methodological policies we had (at 
least so I thought) several epistemological theses which we all 
believed to be true and which we intended to establish. 

To me, at least, these theses committed us to no decision as 
to the more properly metaphysical issues concerning the ultimate 
nature of the world, or even of the nature of mind and its 
functions. On these latter questions I was pretty sure that I 
was not in agreement with my confreres, except possibly with 
Pitkin. Our realism was thus not a philosophy; it was rather a 
prolegomenon to philosophy and a declaration of independence 
that would make it possible to investigate the nature of things 
on their own merits without dragging in the tedious and usually 
irrelevant fact that they could be experienced by us. 

But even within the domain of epistemology, or closely con- 
nected with it, there were incipient differences that were destined 
soon to loom large. The cognitive function was interpreted by 
Perry and Holt, as by Woodbridge and Watson, to be nothing 
more than a "specific response/' i.e. a motion of the organism, or 
some part of it, elicited by a stimulus. For reasons already stated 
this seemed to me preposterously false. Magnify the importance 
of bodily movements as much as we please, they can never be 
other than north or south, east or west, up or down, or in direc- 
tions intermediate to these. But the peculiar rapport between 

VOL. II K 



146 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

an individual and the objects of which he is aware extends to 
past and future and to the realm of the abstract. And it is im- 
possible for the body to move in the "direction" of such entities. 
But what is perhaps an even more serious difference between my 
neo-realist colleagues and myself has developed in recent years. 
The objects which appear in distorted illusory and hallucinatory 
experience, which were always for me, not existential, but merely 
subsistential complexes of essences that could not on reflection 
be believed to be in real space, however vividly they might 
appear there at the moment of perception, have been given an 
existential status by most of those calling themselves neo- 
realists. The result is to make of the space in which we live and 
move a dumping-ground for all the contents of dreams and 
illusions, actual and possible. Any space would crack under 
such a strain, and of course "neo-realist'' space has cracked and 
broken up into a series of "private spaces" and a "public space" 
as a construct of each individual. Are there as many public 
spaces as there are individuals who construct them? Do they 
interpenetrate completely or partly ? Or are they mutually 
external and side by side in a super-public space which is not a 
construct? These last questions must also be asked about the 
private spaces. And where were the individuals who construct 
public space before they did their constructing, i.e. when they 
were babies or embryos ? I would rather be an idealist, at least 
a Kantian idealist, than swallow any such mess. For Kantian 
space, even when reduced to an a priori form of perception, could 
still keep up, though in straitened circumstances, a semblance of 
Euclidean respectability and enjoy a dignified priority to its own 
contents. 

It seems to me to be a certainty that the things of which the 
existing world consists must at each instant have ultimately uni- 
vocal positions, regardless of all of the conflicting perspectives in 
which they may appear. And if we make temporal cross-sections 
of these things, as we always can, and thus treat them as histories 
or continuous series of events, and accept in addition the Special 
Theory of Relativity, the situation is not essentially altered; 
for though in that case space and time will have become inter- 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 147 

dependent aspects of the single four-dimensional continuum 
of "space-time/' yet even so each event will enjoy a univocal 
"date-locus" or absolute "position" in the new continuum. How 
otherwise could the events be unambiguously inter-related by 
the Eddington "intervals," which are to remain invariant, regard- 
less of the perspectives which vary with the motions of the 
systems from which they are taken? Nor do the spaces and 
times of even these varying perspectives include places for hallu- 
cinatory contents. Relativity to the photographic plates on 
moving systems is not relativity to the apperception-masses of 
the men suffering from nightmares or delirium. 

If neo-realism is to mean an ontological equalitarianism in 
which existential status is to be accorded to every content of 
perceptual experience, whether veridical or illusory, then such 
a theory is not realism at all. We may give new names, such as 
"sense-data" or "sensa" or "sensibilia," to the rabble of experi- 
ential contents, and insist piously on calling them "physical" 
in every sentence; but they are not properly physical, for they 
are not properly things at all. They are not agents and patients ; 
they cannot go under their own power; and, worst of all, they 
are totally incapable of orderly arrangement in a single milieu, 
whether a space or a time or the space-time of Relativity. They 
are, in fact, nothing but the well-known adjectival sense-impres- 
sions of Hume and Mill and Mach and Pearson masquerading 
under fancy appellations. And in treating them as the sole con- 
stituents of the world of existence, the New Realism has surren- 
dered unconditionally to the old phenomenalism. 

These sad trends of behaviourism and positivism, which have 
taken place in the last ten years and which I have attempted 
to describe, spoiled my interest in the movement from which 
I had hoped so much good would result; and once more, as in 
the old days at Harvard and at Berkeley, I am left without a 
party. 

My general ethical theory had developed smoothly into an 
articulate conception of what I had always vaguely longed for. 
The good life was the most abundant life. Happiness was incre- 
ment of psychic substance fulfilment of tendencies and capaci- 



148 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

ties. We should seek a maximum of it and a minimum of 
its opposite for all. Courage and sympathy were the means to 
that end. They were the intensive and extensive coefficients of 
righteousness and the only primary virtues. 

As to the religious question which had from the beginning 
been my second philosophic interest, I felt that my views were 
crystallizing into a fairly coherent structure. And this structure 
was based upon two postulates : 

T. The Problem of Good is insoluble in terms of the traditional 
Atheism. 

2. The Problem of Evil is insoluble in terms of the traditional 
Theism. 

There seemed to be too much of goodness and purposiveness 
in the world to be the outcome of blindly or mechanistically 
determined particles; but also too much evil and inconsequenti- 
ally to be compatible with any power at once omnipotent and 
benign. There must be a God, a force or trend upward, to account 
for the more than casual amount of goodness in existence, and 
there must be a tremendous limitation in such a power to account 
for the evil. The finite Deity of Mill and James was thus indi- 
cated, both on grounds of metaphysical plausibility and of 
ethical satisfaction. 

When, however, we consider, not the processes of the Universe, 
but its structure, we must recognize that the only chance for 
the existence of anything worthy the appellation of Deity must 
turn on the possibility that the cosmos has a life and mind of its 
own over and above the lesser beings included within it. In 
the old and unattractive words we may ask: Is there any likeli- 
hood that the world is an animal? Can the sprawling galaxies 
conceivably possess that degree of integration and organicity 
which would constitute them an adequate vehicle or external 
manifestation of a unitary and personal experience? To this 
question I could give an affirmative answer. Not with certainty, 
but yet with high probability, we may believe that the enduring 
unity of the whole is more rather than less than the transitory 
unities of its parts. Such a Being would, like other beings, possess 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 149 

an "environment*' which would, however, be internal rather 
than external, and would consist of its own confused and recalci- 
trant constituents: "that in God which is not God. 1 ' Encompass- 
ing this unitary totality of existence there would abide the eternal 
Logos, or totality of subsistent possibles, of which the actual 
world is itself but an infinitesimal fraction an indeterminate 
and ever-changing precipitate of compossibility, the resultant, so 
to speak, of a struggle for existence on the part of the essences. 
The will to good, or the tendency toward harmony, would be but 
one essence among many; but its intent to inform the stubborn 
and warring parts of the universe with the harmony and unity 
of the Logos would give it an advantage over all other less eirenic 
tendencies. And the epic of cosmic evolution would consist 
in the uncertain, imperfect, and interrupted, but generally pro- 
gressive, leavening of an infinite chaos by the element in it of 
divine love and good. This little yet perfect thing working in 
the heart of all things we can symbolize as Prometheus or as 
Christ, the finite will of a God whose essence and substance are 
all-comprehending and infinite. 

I am painfully aware, not only of the inadequacy of my language 
to express this Leibnizo-Peircian theory, but of what will appear 
to my colleagues as the antiquated and fantastic character of 
the theory itself. And I am equally well aware that no such 
theological system of hazardous and far-flung speculation, were 
it a thousand times more skilful and plausible, could constitute 
more than the intellectual husk of religious experience itself. 
The feelings of loneliness, insufficiency, and terror are the real 
drives that generate religion. The ancient and pathetic hope 
that the world is somehow kin to us, and that the things for 
v/hich we care most are not ultimately at the mercy of blind and 
indifferent forces, impels the search for God. And when this 
hope is reinforced by a mystic sense of being sustained by some- 
thing sweet and quick, not of us, but very close to us, we have 
enough to justify the attempt to reconcile the need of our heart 
with the cold and meagre knowledge of the facts of existence. 

Of far greater importance to me than the beliefs on epistemo- 
logy, ethics, and religion, the nature and genesis of which I have 



150 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

been describing, was a certain conception of the nature of the 
mind and its relation to the body which came to me in a curious 
way, and which has seemed to me to constitute the solution of 
the problem which of all problems had interested me most. 
I have tried in four or five articles to present and defend the 
hypothesis in question, but my failure to convey to my friends 
my own conviction of its truth and importance warns me that 
I shall probably fail also in this new and necessarily brief 
account of the nature of the theory and the manner of its 
genesis. 

In my second year of teaching at Berkeley I had been using as 
textbooks Hoffding's Psychology, Pearson's Grammar of Science 
and the Critique of Pure Reason. In Hoffding I had come across a 
reference to Lotze's comment on Herbart's doctrine of degrees 
of intensity in mental states. I do not remember the exact 
point of the matter, but it had been haunting my mind, and I 
had commented upon it to my class. In Pearson I had been struck 
with a statement to the effect that whether the analogy between 
sense-impressions and forms of strain was anything more than 
a mere analogy he would leave undetermined. In my course on 
Kant we had been dealing with the "Analogies of Experience," 
particularly the one concerned with intensive quantity. At the 
close of a morning in which the discussion in the Kant class had 
been especially lively and profitable, I was walking home to 
lunch in fine spirits and full of satisfaction with the students and 
with the work that we were doing together. Suddenly I got the 
strangest experience; and if in my attempt to describe it I make 
it seem silly or even meaningless, I can only ask the reader's 
patience on the ground that, however preposterous he may find 
it, it has meant more to me than anything else that has happened 
in my life. The feeling came as I was crossing a little brook; and 
it was as if I could look into and down through each point of 
space and perceive a kind of well of indefinite depth. The new 
realm was like a fourth dimension in that it was perpendicular 
to the three dimensions of space, and yet as contained within 
each point it seemed to be a lesser thing than a spatial dimension. 
1 described it to myself as a " hypo-space/' a realm of negative 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 151 

dimensionality or essential fractions of the punctiform units of 
an extensive manifold. It seemed to be the domain of intensity 
and density, so that if I thought of a continuous solid being 
diminished in its extent until it had shrunk to a point, that would 
not be a zero of mass magnitude, for each point of a solid must 
be as different from a point of empty space as a finite sphere of 
solid is from the same sphere of empty space. After you reduced 
matter to points, each of those solid points would have to wane 
or fade down in density or intensity in order to reach the true 
zero of mass. The first implication or application of my apperfu, 
if I may dignify to that extent my novel experience, was the 
realization that there was room inside a point for a whole micro- 
cosmic intensive replica, though in a curious inverted form, of the 
extended macrocosm outside; and that the elements of that 
intensive replica would have, on the one hand, a privacy and 
invisibility, and, on the other hand, a unity and organicity which, 
while preserving the plurality of specificities, would permit of 
their being superposed upon one another rather than placed side 
by side as in extensive pluralities. The different elements would 
occupy the same place just as a shape and its colour, or a tone- 
magnitude and its pitch. The second reflection it occurred to 
me to make on the new conception was that whenever a motion 
or stream of kinetic energy was checked and transformed into 
a potential state of strain or stress, the place of that strain 
and of an indefinite number of further strains that could be 
successively superposed upon it was the new dimension that 
stretched in and "down" through each point of space. It was 
because of this beautiful and unsuspected hiding-place for energies 
that they were enabled to pass into the seeming nothingness of 
mere potentiality and emerge again with all their specificities 
unscathed. And then, putting these two sets of reflections together, 
it came over me suddenly that I had discovered the real nature 
of the psychical and the manner of its relation to the cerebral 
matrix in which it was so elusively located. I had found the way 
in which sensations were produced at the points in the brain 
where the neural currents were transformed into potential 
energy prior to their re-issuance as motor responses. I had found 



152 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the place where an indefinitely rich system of memories could 
be piled up as traces left by the sensory currents during the 
potential stage of their journey. I had found how it was that a 
sequence of successive moments, mutually exclusive in the 
physical order, could nevertheless be felt as a solid chunk of 
duration extending back and down into the past, the "specious 
present" or ditree real of Bergson, which more than anything else 
differentiates the mental from the moment-to-moment reality 
of a physical system. I had, in short, discovered the soul in its 
hiding-place, and not indirectly through dialectical inference, but 
concretely through an intuition. I walked off the little bridge on 
which I had stopped when the thing came on me and went home 
in a daze of ecstasy. 

The ideas initiated by the strange experience that I had under- 
gone have persisted up to the present, and despite the epistemo- 
logical, sociological, and religious interests to which I have 
referred, my dominant philosophic purpose has been to make 
clear to myself and others the full meaning of what had been 
revealed in my intuition while crossing the brook. To the fulfil- 
ment of this purpose there have been obstacles in particular, 
my own self -distrust. I knew that I had the taint of the circle- 
squarer deep in me, and that fantastic analogies were apt to 
seize on my mind and gain an importance and a fascination 
far beyond their logical value. Perhaps it was because of my 
weakness and tolerance for the fantastic that the various pseudo- 
philosophic cranks, who are always appealing to universities for 
academic endorsement of their wild schemes, were usually re- 
ferred to me by my colleagues in philosophy and psychology. 
I recall one poor lady who had accepted as a commonplace and 
established fact the crazy notion that every name had a "vibra- 
tion rate" which, by a sort of sympathetic magic, controlled the 
object named. Her own original addition to this nonsense was 
the great theory that the word "vibration" must itself have a 
vibration-rate which, could it only be discovered, would be a 
potent control over the whole universe. I proceeded, as in less 
acute cases, to disillusionize her gently but firmly as to any hope 
of academic encouragement for her theory. As at last she turned 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 153 

to go, I noticed the stricken look begin to fade from her face 
and the horrible secret smile of the paranoiac gradually triumph 
over the hurt. I felt an eerie goose-flesh shudder on my own part, 
and suddenly the memory of John Bunyan came to mind, and 
I thought, "There, but for the Grace of God, go I" and perhaps 
there I do go anyway. Was it not terribly possible that my own 
gorgeous intuition might turn out to be of the same pitiful 
tinsel stuff as that of the vibration-lady whose idea I had just 
sentenced to a well-deserved death? 

In the more than twenty-five years that have elapsed, my 
theory has developed through four successive stages, psycho- 
logical, epistemological, biological, and cosmological. I will try 
to set down briefly and in turn the principal conclusions in each 
of these fields. 

i. Psychological. Sensations are the modes of intensive or 
potential energy into which the afferent currents of motion 
or kinetic energy are transformed at those points in the nervous 
system (presumably the synapses) in which they are re-directed 
into efferent currents of muscular and other responses. When 
and where the energy of the stimulus ceases to be externally 
observable as motion, there and then the new kind of energy, 
purely private and internally observable as sensation, comes into 
existence. What from the standpoint of the physicist is mere 
potentiality of future motion, is in and for itself the actuality 
of feeling and sensation. These intensive energy-forms fade out 
rapidly, though never completely, into their appropriate motor 
responses; but their traces in all their specificity are retained, 
accumulated, and superposed on one another after the fashion 
of the successive twists imposed upon a rope or spring. They 
constitute the memory-system of the individual, and like a 
faint but pervasive field of force they modify in accordance with 
their structure and pattern the responses to later stimuli. There 
thus grows up an organism within the organism, an enduring 
and ever-present register of the succession of past sensations, not 
externally observable yet causally effective upon the visible 
cerebral matrix. Unless we are to assume that a complex system 
of motions could pass at their moments of re-direction into 



154 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

complete nothingness and emerge unscathed in magnitude and 
in form, we must believe that those energies in their latent or 
so-called potential phase possess, though invisible, all the rich- 
ness and definiteness of structure that characterizes their visible 
antecedents and consequents. The character of such a field of 
potential energy as indirectly inferred from without possesses 
all the essential characters of the mind as directly experienced 
from within. Looked at from either standpoint, we find privacy, 
unity, "extension in time/' or duration of the past in the present, 
and variety of content without divisibility or side-by-sideness. 
In any extensive aggregate of particles in motion, the unity is 
factitious and secondary, and the behaviour is the sum of be- 
haviours of the separate elements. The forms and relations of 
the system are not, as such, primarily effective. But a field of 
force is like a mind in that the organic unity and pattern of the 
whole dominates the behaviour of the constituents, which are 
thus distinct phases rather than separate parts. And the forms 
and relations or gestalten within such an intensive system 
become what they never are in an extensive aggregate namely, 
primary and effective determiners as such. 

These, in briefest summary, are some of the reasons in support 
of the theory that the potentiality of external motion is the 
actuality of internal experience. Furthermore, such a theory 
has what seems to me a very important methodological advan- 
tage over other theories of the relation of mind to body. It 
enables us, in the first place, to accept as true the various points 
which psycho-physical dualists, from Descartes to Bergson, have 
urged so effectively as revealing the impossibility of the kind 
of structure which we know as mind, being a mere concomitant 
or inseparable aspect of the very different and essentially con- 
trasting kind of structure which we know as brain. But in the 
second place the theory enables us to express these truths of 
dualism without departing from the physical categories which 
constitute the strength and fruitfulness of the mechanistic con- 
ception. To treat mind as a field of potential energy is to do justice 
both to its uniqueness of structure and to its homogeneity with 
the material world of which it is an integral part. 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 155 

2. Epistentological. Turning from the psycho-physical problem 
of the relation of mind to brain to that quite other though 
related problem of the relation of the individual as knower 
(whatever else he may be) to the object as known (whatever else 
it may be), we find an extraordinary situation a situation in 
which an organism or system of events is in a curious and unique 
rapport with other events whose loci and dates are different from 
its own. Consciousness may, indeed, be defined as a situation in 
which certain events (the objects) enjoy a vicarious efficacy in 
spaces and times other than their own namely, those of the 
brain that knows them. For when my conduct is controlled by 
my awareness of spatio-temporally distant objects, to that 
extent those objects are causally efficacious in positions other 
than their proper ones. And again, from the side of the knower 
or subject, the internal states by means of which he apprehends 
arc controlled by their external and objective meanings rather 
than by their sensory content. The psycho-physical theory that 
the mind is a system of potential energies enables us to under- 
stand how and why its objects are other than itself. For potential 
energy has a double self-transcending reference. As the determiner 
of future motions it is an agent and faces future-ward, but as 
the "determinee" of past motions it faces past- ward, and is a 
patient. It is this retrospective reference of potentialities to their 
causes that constitutes the curious cognitive function. We live 
forward, but we experience backward. Facts are what we appre- 
hend, and every fact is afactum, something done, a, fait accompli. 
This explains the curious relativity of objects known to the 
subject that knows them, a relativity that is "selective" but 
never constitutive, like the relativity of historical events to the 
words that describe them. Which things we shall know at any 
moment depends on our internal states at that moment, but 
the things thus known are independent both in essence and exist- 
ence of the states that reveal them. And as a potentiality viewed 
as a forward-facing tendency may be counteracted and fail to 
produce its characteristic effect, so may that same potentiality, 
in its backward-facing or cognitive reference, fail to reveal its true 
cause. This is the explanation of error. Our cognitive states 



156 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

reveal their normal or most probable implicates, which may be, 
but need not be, identical with existing objects. 

3. Biological. The outstanding mystery of organic life is 
the peculiar capacity of a fertilized germ to embody in its 
own material structure apart from the truth or falsity of the 
Lamarckian theory the structures of its myriad of ancestors. 
These present embodiments of an enormous past certainly do 
not exist side by side or within one another, as the "Encasement" 
theory would have it, nor can they be accounted for in terms 
of the number of possible combinations and permutations of 
their atoms. These various possible arrangements would, of 
course, be more than sufficient numerically, but they would not 
persist in any definite order through the intercourse with the 
environment. Their definiteness of arrangement would be washed 
out through successive interactions. In order to account for the 
persistence of the heredity-structure through all the vicissitudes 
of ontogeny and later growth, it is necessary to allow to the 
germ tremendous causal prepotency over its environment. The 
latter is only a releasing and sustaining condition, and by no 
means an equal partner in the interactions. Now, if the ancestral 
past of a germ is present in it as a system of potential energies 
superposed to any degree upon one another in an intensive hier- 
archy, then we have an adequate system of causal determiners 
of the process that ensues, and the reason for its persistence with 
unaltered specificity is plain. Pre-formation becomes reconciled 
with epigenesis. For the constellation of atoms in the material 
structure of the chromosomes can be meagre and without resem- 
blance to the structures that are to ensue (epigenesis), while at 
the same time the hierarchy of intensive energy forms may em- 
body in their own invisible and temporally ordered structure an 
infinitely rich system of all, and more than all, of the forms of 
past ancestry and of possible future posterity. This is a sort of 
pre-formationism, but it is "energic" rather than materialistic. 

4. Cosmological. The Einstein Theory of Relativity might 
appear at first sight to have no relevant bearings upon my hypo- 
thesis as to the nature of mind and life, and yet it has seemed 
increasingly to be congruent with it. The Einstein-Minkowski 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 157 

world is a four-dimensional continuum of space-time. As usually 
conceived, that world is in a queer sense static. The time aspect 
of it is like time that is past. The present flowing of time, what 
Whitehead calls the fact of Passage, is not provided for. It is a 
world whose objects, when temporally considered, are histories; 
but as in the world of Spinoza they are histories that sub specie 
aetemitatis have been always completed. Now, if we amend this 
world to provide for its life as well as its shadowgraph, we may 
fancy it as a space-time hyper-sphere, not static, but growing or 
expanding cumulatively, and (if the Special Theory of Relativity 
is true) non-Euclideanly in a direction perpendicular to its 
"surface/' The three-dimensional "surface" of this growing 
hyper-sphere is the spatial or material world. The electrons and 
protons may be thought of as the hills and hollows, or pimples 
and dimples, which are opposite and unequal fourth-dimensional 
displacements in the three-dimensional "surface" of our space. 
They would be produced by equal and opposite corkscrew "twist- 
thrusts." If the "surface" were not expanding, the equal and 
opposite "twist-thrusts" would give protuberances and depres- 
sions that also were respectively equal. But in an expanding 
spherical surface equal twists would be correlated with unequal 
thrusts or displacements in the direction of the perpendicular. 
If these displacements represent the mass of the hill or hollow 
and the twists represent the electric charge, then we could under- 
stand how the degree of the depression (protonic mass) could 
be greater (1,845 times greater) than the degree of elevation 
(electronic mass), though their degrees of twist or electric charge 
were equal. 

If material particles can be thought of (following Clifford) as 
the permanent four-dimensional departures from the three- 
dimensional surface of the ether on which they float, then the 
associated vital and psychical systems of potential energy, 
registering the actual past and so foreshadowing the probable 
future of the bodies with which they are connected, can be 
conceived as the temporary and more tenuous four-dimensional 
extensions (or durations) that are the invisible appendages of 
their visible matrices. Thus I believe that the mind, as a system 



158 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

of potential energies in the cerebrum, is a real soul, thick or 
deep in the direction of the past from which the world has moved. 
The world is a true "pleon," a self-increaser, and the vital and 
mental structures contained in it are moving all together with a 
cumulative growth-motion in a fourth-dimensional direction. 
That motion we perceive, not as such, but as the passage of time. 
The inner part of the world-hyper-sphere constitutes its definite 
and still enduring past, while the as yet unoccupied space out- 
side, into which it will grow, constitutes its indefinite future, 
filled only with the possibilities which are the shadows thrown 
forward by what already is. The world-soul, like the souls of 
men, hangs down in time, extends into the past. Its material 
existence and ours at each present instant is but the three- 
dimensional cross-section, the fighting-front of a four-dimensional 
spiritual reality. 

I have made a desperate attempt to express in a few paragraphs 
the broader implications or applications of my theory of the 
character of mind and organic life. My philosophic speculations 
have brought me to the goal of a cosmological spiritualism, but 
a spiritualism that in a sense can be expressed in physical cate- 
gories. And so with equal propriety it may be termed a spiri- 
tualistic or animistic materialism. The hopes and fears of one's 
heart exert such hidden and potent influences on one's intellect 
that it is hard for anyone to be sure whether his conclusions in 
matters of life-and-death importance are intellectually honest. 
At times I feel a sort of shame and self -mistrust that I should have 
come out with a philosophy so optimistic. That the world is a 
spirit, and that we are; and that perhaps we share even the 
immortality of a Life that contains and sustains us is a creed 
almost too happy and too good to be true. And yet I do believe 
that if not true it is something very like the truth. 



WM. PEPPERELL MONTAGUE 159 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

"A Theory of Time Perception," American Journal of Psychology, 
October 1904. 

"Consciousness a Form of Energy/' Essays Philosophical and Psycho- 
logical in Honor of William James, New York, 1908. 

"May a Realist be a Pragmatist?" Journal of Philosophy, August, 
September, and October 1909. 

"A Realistic Theory of Truth and Error," The New Realism, New 
York, 1912. 

"The Antinomy and its Implications for Logical Theory," Studies 
in the History of Ideas, vol. i, New York, 1918. 

"Variation, Heredity and Consciousness," Proceedings of the Aris- 
totckan Society, 1921. 

"The Einstein Theory and a Possible Alternative," Philosophical 
Review, March 1924, 

"The Missing Link in the Case for Utilitarianism," Studies in the 
History of Ideas, vol. ii, New York, 1925. 

"Time and the Fourth Dimension," University of California Publica- 
tions in Philosophy, 1925. 

The Ways of Knowing (Allen & Unwin, London, 1925). 

"Truth Existential and Subsistential," University of California 
Publications in Philosophy, 1928. 

"A Materialistic Theory of Emergent Evolution," Essays in Honor 
of John Dcwcy, New York, 1929. 



EMPIRICAL IDEALISM 

By DE WITT H. PARKER 
Born 1885; Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan. 



VOL. II 



EMPIRICAL IDEALISM 

MY interest in philosophy dates exactly from the moment when, 
in the little public library of Summit, N.J., a mere boy of eleven 
years, I chanced upon White's Flistory of the Warfare of Science with 
Theology and read on through the afternoon until closing hour ; 
then hastened home to announce to my astonished sisters that 
Adam and Eve never existed, that Noah never gathered the 
animals "two by two" into the Ark, that Jonah was never swal- 
lowed by a whale. Years of fervid quest followed, during which, 
without teachers and without fellow-inquirers, I tried to discover 
whether the 'faith of my fathers 1 was or was not true. Small 
wonder that, with a brain seething with such thoughts, I lost 
interest in the more usual pursuits of boyhood, so unexciting 
by comparison! I read all the books relating to the subject I 
could lay my hands on, making use later, on the family's removal 
to Boston, of the ample resources of the Public Library there; 
first, books of 'higher criticism/ beginning with Kenan and 
Strauss; then books of popular philosophy, like those of Fiske, 
Haeckel, and Carus, dominated by the concept of evolution, 
and even weightier works, such as Martineau's Seat of Authority 
in Religion and Spencer's First Principles. Under the influence 
of all this reading I passed from orthodoxy to Unitarian 'theism* 
(fortified incidentally by Felix Adler's Creed and Deed, a book 
that I know has left a permanent impress on my mind) ; thence 
to a mystical pantheism and nature worship; and, finally, after 
reading Matthew Arnold's God and the Bible, Darwin's Descent 
of Man, and books of Spencerian and Comtean positivism, to 
entire rejection, as I thought, of all theological beliefs. 

When I entered Harvard in 1902 I had, therefore, lived through 
six years of lonely and unguided reflection, with a purely negative 
result. Yet I came with a tremendous eagerness to discover, if 
possible, the real nature of things, and a profound conviction 
that philosophy, and philosophy alone, could inform me. My 
life's purpose was henceforth fixed. In my Freshman year I 
elected History of Philosophy, ancient philosophy being given 
by Santayana and modern philosophy by Professor R, B. Perry. 



164 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Few of my later experiences will stand comparison in vividness 
and freshness of joy with my first readings in genuine philosophy 
in connection with this course the reading of Plato's Republic, 
Aristotle's Ethics, Descartes' Meditations, Spinoza's Ethics, 
Hume's Treatise, Berkeley's Dialogues. How trivial by contrast 
all my previous reading seemed, as the shadow to the substance! 
Later on 1 was to listen to Royce lecture on Kant and Symbolic 
Logic, Santayana on Plato, Palmer on Goodness, Muensterberg 
on Eternal Values, James on Tychism and Radical Empiricism. 
To me and to my fellow-students, philosophy, as represented by 
these men, whom we deemed immortal, was still in the making, 
and "to be alive was very heaven" in their company. Yet I was 
not able to count myself a disciple of any one of them. A regret- 
table shyness, and a too great reverence for my professors, 
prevented me from seeking them out and getting personally 
acquainted with them; and besides, there were always, in the 
case of each one of them, important matters of theory, with 
regard to which I could not follow them. To my thoroughly 
unpractical self, James's pragmatism was meaningless as philo- 
sophy; in his proofs for the existence of the Absolute, Royce 
seemed to be always 'working for an answer/ like the small 
boy who has peaked into the back of the exercise book and 
already knows the solution of the problem; Santayana's material- 
ism could not stand in my mind against Berkeley and Hume; 
the new realism of Holt and Perry I thought incapable of account- 
ing for subjectivity, for knowledge, error and illusion; Palmer's 
ethical pietism seemed inconsistent with the fact of evil, and 
Muensterberg's contrast between science and life too sharply 
drawn. Yet from each of my Harvard teachers I learned things 
invaluable for my philosophical development: from Royce my 
interest in Symbolic Logic; from James the standpoint of 
radical empiricism and a bias towards pluralism and indeter- 
minism; from Santayana an awakening to the problems of value 
(I still think Santayana's whole metaphysics, with its artifices 
of matter and essence, however original and beautiful in 
expression, a sad mistake, while his interpretations of culture 
remain incomparable in our generation) ; from Perry and Holt a 



DE WITT H. PARKER 165 

discontent with traditional solutions. Aside from my debt to my 
teachers, I owed most, during my student days, to Berkeley and 
Hume; to Hegel and Nietzsche; to Bradley, Mach, and Avenarius, 
and outside of the field of philosophy, to my study of Greek and 
mathematics. 

Since leaving Harvard I have taught at the University of 
Michigan for nearly twenty years, with the exception of two 
years spent at the University of California. During these years I 
have made a special study of aesthetics, both historical and 
theoretical, falling successively under the influence of Santayana, 
Lipps, and Croce, but eventually working my way to an inde- 
pendent standpoint, as represented in my books, The Principles 
of Aesthetics, 1920, and the Analysis of Art, 1926. Plato and 
Aristotle, whom I teach, have persistently occupied my thought; 
my knowledge of the German idealists and of Leibniz and 
Spinoza has been intermittently renewed and extended; Bergson 
and Peirce, both strangely neglected during my student days, 
have influenced me powerfully. Like most of my contemporaries, 
I fancy, I have been tantalized and stimulated by the writings 
of Russell, so fresh and mercurial ; and through his work largely 
I have maintained my interest in symbolic logic, a subject which 
I teach occasionally to minute classes of advanced students. My 
book, The Self and Nature, 1917, represents the impact of all 
these influences for the first ten years of my professorial career. 
The book is merely an impressionistic sketch, full of inconsisten- 
cies and other shortcomings; but I still adhere to its essential 
positions. Very recently, as a result doubtless of ethical problems 
raised by the Great War, I have become interested in the problems 
connected with the general nature, classification, and criticism 
of Values. With reference to these problems I have derived the 
greatest help from Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, and the Austrians, 
and more recently from the protagonists of the Gestalt concept. 
Throughout my career at Michigan I have profited exceedingly 
from the friendship and intellectual companionship of my 
colleagues, Professors Wenley, Lloyd, and Sellars. From Sellars 
I am sure I have borrowed some points in theory of knowledge, 
while dissenting vigorously from his disguised materialism. 



166 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

With the above as an autobiographical introduction, I shall 
now attempt to give a sketch of my philosophical position, 
confining myself mainly to metaphysics. 

For me the proper standpoint of philosophy is what James 
called 'radical empiricism/ which is, as I understand it, the 
demand that the philosopher shall use only concepts representing 
concrete experience. This point of view was already occupied 
by Hume when, for every idea, he sought the corresponding 
impression. Hence, I should say, Hume's method remains 
essentially sound, while his results are often defective owing to 
faulty analysis of experience. The key to the understanding of 
reality lies within experience, and to find the metaphysical 
meaning and validity of such concepts as cause, law, stuff, 
substance and the like, we must look to their experience-equi- 
valents. Moreover, since experience is a part of the system of the 
universe, it is reasonable to believe that it provides us with a fair 
sample of the whole. I see no reason for believing that there 
is any other stuff or substance except experience; hence, to 
my thinking, materialism, naturalism evolutionary or not 
epiphenomenalism, and the like, are the proles honenda of philo- 
sophic perversion. In philosophy we must start from ourselves, 
and I would quote Goethe's verses as applying not only to 
happiness but to truth: 

Willst du immer waiter schweifen 
Sieh, das Gute liegt so nah. 

If it be objected that this is too introverted a standpoint, my 
reply is that following the other path has led to the contemporary 
impasse. In so far as the great systems of idealism built upon 
concrete experience rather than upon the abstract and prob- 
lematic concepts of natural science, they were, I believe, on the 
right track; they were wrong, however, in neglecting such 
humble problems as the relation between mind and body; in 
accepting too uncritically the background of ideas supplied by 
Christianity, and in paying too little heed to science and its 
problems and major results. My own thinking is in line with the 
more empirical type of idealism represented by Berkeley and 



DE WITT H. PARKER 167 

by Schopenhauer in his saner moments, and among recent 
thinkers, by the Bergson of Lcs Donncs Immediates and the 
little masterpiece on Relativity. But now for some results follow- 
ing this method. 

The analysis of experience reveals two types of facts, percepts, 
and activities. By activities I mean such facts as desiring, 
judging, appreciating; to call them activities is already to 
characterize them in a fashion, and to distinguish them from 
percepts which are given to us as relatively passive. Emotions, 
pleasures and pains, and the like, have an equivocal status, 
partaking of the nature of both. The activities, in their order 
and connections, constitute the self. I distinguish the self from 
the mind, for by mind should be meant the whole complex of 
activities and associated percepts. It is clear that each self is 
associated with a group of percepts in a way not further 
describable, and not associated in the same way with the 
activities and percepts of another mind. So far as our knowledge 
goes, there are no percepts without activities, and no activities 
not associated with percepts. 

Following the method of radical empiricism and granting the 
existence of minds other than our own, we can define the nature 
of physical things. Let us begin by inquiring into the nature of 
the body of one of our fellow-men. In the first place, his body 
consists of certain percepts of mine, of his own, and of other 
minds that may be acquainted with him. These percepts resemble 
each other, and are connected together in a certain order in time 
and in space. To the old question whether a thing exists when 
I do not perceive it, the answer is always possible that it does, 
so long as there are any percepts of the type in question in the 
mind of someone else. But we can go farther than this, and in 
so doing we reach an enlarged notion of the reality of the thing. 
For it is possible to show, by a process of reasoning easily divined, 
but into the detail of which I have no space to enter, that all 
the percepts in question proceed from a single centre. For example, 
many men in a concert-hall get percepts of the violinist drawing 
his bow; but all these percepts proceed from an activity of the 
violinist his interest, drive, wish, or whatever you choose to 



168 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

call it which expresses itself in his playing. This activity is the 
real thing-in-itself, the true physical object, the focus of the 
thing, of which all our percepts may be called phenomena. 
(My dependence upon Schopenhauer, at this point, is obvious.) 
Of course, further knowledge of the body shows that most of its 
phenomena are not conditioned by the activities of the violinist; 
or, if so conditioned, are determined by other factors as well; 
so that, in the end, we come to see that the organism is a compli- 
cated system, of which the self is only a small part, co-governing 
only such phenomena as voluntary muscular action, and to 
a lesser degree, glandular and other 'autonomic' facts. What, 
then, is the reality corresponding to our percepts of the more 
purely somatic processes of the body? If we accept the principle 
which I am employing, that the self is a sample of nature, we 
shall be committed to believing that the other elements in the 
system of the organism are of the same character as the self, 
that they, too, are activities, associated as ours are, with percepts. 
The inorganic world should be interpreted in the same way. 
For the organism is not essentially different from inorganic 
nature; from the point of view of the chemist, it is built of the 
same materials; metaphysically, also, it must be of the same 
kind. Every physical thing consists, in the last analysis, most 
immediately of percepts, which have no existence apart from 
minds; these I shall call the circumference of the object; and 
secondly of activities, which do exist independently of a per- 
ceiving mind; these I shall call the centre or focus of the object. 
The percept may be viewed, causally, as the reaction of one mind 
to the activities of another mind, and, epistemologically, as the 
symbol or awareness of the presence and efficacy of the other 
mind. Nature is a vast system of such centres of activity with 
their associated percepts. What in the contemporary philosophy 
of science are called events, are, in my view, happenings within 
such centres. The aim of science, as Russell puts it, is to give 
the chrono-geography of these events. 

The activities are not only part of the stuff or material cause 
in the Aristotelian sense the rest of the stuff being percepts 
they arc also substance, essence or 'continuant' (to borrow 



DE WITT H. PARKER 169 

W. E. Johnson's term), in the sense of that which remains 
identical despite change. There is nothing in the universe sub- 
stantial except plan, purpose, wish, meaning. These facts are 
given to us as identical; indeed, the very import of the concept 
of identity can be shown to be dependent upon them. Sense data, 
on the other hand, come and go, are qualitatively alike, perhaps, 
but are never identical. My plans and interests, on the other hand, 
remain observably the same through the years. This sameness is, 
of course, not incompatible with difference; in fact, sameness, as 
Hegel insisted, is meaningless apart from difference; to affirm that 
"A is A" is to say no more than just "A." Essence is always 
immersed in change and growth. It has been objected to the type 
of metaphysics which I advocate that it provides no place for 
conservation, which is so important a fact in science; since mind, 
it is alleged, is by nature evanescent, new every day, following 
sleep, and perhaps every few moments, with each pulse-beat of 
attention. To this I would make reply that there are two important 
ways in which there is conservation in mind: first, in the identity 
of the activities, just referred to; and second, in memory and 
tradition, through which something out of the past is carried on 
into the present. And when one inquires narrowly into just what 
science teaches concerning conservation, one finds that it knows 
of no conservation except of types of behaviour, of laws. But laws 
are precisely the plans, the habits, the purposes, the memories 
of nature; or, more exactly, the ways in which these things 
manifest their invariances in our percepts. 

The chief difficulty, however, in the way of accepting substance 
as pertaining to mind comes from false views of time. And 
since, in my opinion, almost everything of importance in meta- 
physics depends upon getting this matter straight, I shall give 
to a consideration of the category of time what might otherwise 
be a disproportionate number of pages of this essay. But even 
so, I shall be able to report only those radically empirical facts 
which seem to me of basic consequence for metaphysics. 

Decisive for any conception of time is the definition of the 
'present/ Now by the 'present 1 can be meant nothing short 
of the whole of reality of which this, whatever this is which I 



170 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

perceive, is a part. The present and reality are co-extensive, not 
to be sure in connotation, but in denotation. For reality can be 
defined only through relation to the perceived, as the conceived 
system to which the perceived belongs; it is the whole of which 
'this* is a part. But the 'this' is not only the determining basis 
for the construction of reality, but also for the construction of 
the present; for the present is precisely the given, or the whole 
of which the given is a part. Hence the extension of the two 
concepts, 'present' and 'reality/ coincide. This might seem to 
reduce reality to a bare point, but only because of mistaken 
views of past and future, as we shall see. However, since percepts 
are shifting, new ones emerging and old ones disappearing, the 
present, and by the same token reality, as the whole of which 
this percept is a part, is a variable. Yet the shift is never total; 
for if my assumptions regarding substance are well-grounded, 
some elements or parts of reality are always conserved. If this 
were not so, then, since the present is the whole of reality, past 
and future would coincide with non-existence. But since it is so, 
and since, as I think may be taken for granted without argument, 
time by itself has no reality, but only its 'filling' is real, it follows 
that at least part of the past exists as part of the present. It so 
exists in two ways: First, all the identical elements of reality, 
since they did exist as well as now exist, are themselves the past\ 
in them past and present overlap. Second, the past exists as 
memory and history. The shift within the mind is not merely a 
shift to new contents, but to the preservation of the old in memory 
and conceptual reconstruction. 

Consider the matter with reference to yourself. What is your 
past ? Surely your enduring interests are your past this interest 
in philosophy, that affection, that belief, that habit without all 
of which your past would never have been what it was. These 
facts are of your past, part and parcel of it, quite as much as they 
are of your present. When you look back over your past, you 
find them there, just as you now find them here. The only reason 
one might have for denying their pastness would be a false use 
of 'past* as a contrast term to 'present' ; but there is no total 
difference between past and present; for precisely over the area 



DE WITT H. PARKER 171 

of our persisting interests, they coincide. Our memories and 
records of the past are also bits of the past. As intuitive, memory 
contains at least a part of what it knows; and if record is true, 
its logical form or structure must be identical with the form 
of the things it records. But so far as memory and record are 
parts of the living mind, they not only contain a portion of the 
past, but are themselves a portion of the present. Whether some 
part of every past fact is conserved in the present through memory 
or record, or whether, in Plato's language, existence has a leak 
in it and there are elements which disappear entirely, is a question 
which, in my opinion, cannot be answered with certainty. So 
far as our own experience takes us, we know neither the riches 
nor the poverty of memory: we remember much more than we 
think we do, and, on the other hand, we have reason to believe 
that there were many things which we have forgotten, and of 
which there is no record. Yet that there exists no record of any 
fact anywhere in the universe cannot, of course, be known. 
But however this matter be settled, it remains true that not all of 
the past is conserved; for in the transition from primary experi- 
ence to memory and record, something is lost. We have a direct 
experience of the breaking up, loss, and destruction of things. 
The vase that I hold in my hand will not be wholly conserved in 
my recollection of it if I drop and break it; nor will the deed 
that I do be wholly preserved, but only its pale echo of memory 
in my mind. 

The theory of the status of the future can readily be con- 
structed from the theory regarding the past. The future is real, 
as the past is, so far as it is a part of the present. It is real as the 
permanent interests, plans, and affections which, existing now, 
will exist also then, are real. As expectation and prophecy, it is 
also real. It has no more and also no less reality than this. 
And it, too, like the present, is a shifting reality, only the shift 
is in the opposite direction. Instead of beginning as primary 
experience and then shifting to idea, in which it is then partly 
conserved, it begins on the plane of idea and passes to the plane 
of primary experience; and again, instead of there being a loss 
as the result of the shift, there is a gain. The deed that I am about 



172 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to do does not exist in some region remote from the present 
called the future ; it exists not at all except as my present purpose 
and expectation, which are, however, also future. Hence through 
the shift towards the future, when the plan is fulfilled in the deed, 
there is compensation for what is lost through the shift to the 
past; and, as a result of both processes, there is a growing com- 
plexity in the present, which is reality; since something of the 
new that comes in at the future end of the process is not lost, 
but is conserved as memory or history, at the past end. 

If this view is correct, it follows that past, present, and future 
are not exclusive; that to exist, which is always to exist in the 
present, is also to exist in the past and the present. There are no 
momentary existences. There arc certainly no momentary selves. 
The self is a system of habits and memories; but habits and 
memories are 'the past over again/ and when I act in accordance 
with some habit or recollect some former deed, I am relieving a 
fragment of my former self. Yet, in thus reaching back into the 
past, I do not cease to live in the present; for my action and my 
memory are occurring now. Moreover, I never act without a plan, 
clear or vague; and when, reckoning with all relevant conditions, 
I 'dream on things to come/ my dream is more than mere 
prophecy; it is 'anticipation/ a taking before of the experience 
to which I am moving: hence, while my dream lasts, I am actually 
in the future. Nevertheless, I do not thereby cease to be in the 
present, for the dream is here and now. I am always at once 
past, present, and future, a threefold reality, but my past and 
my future lie within the present. Or consider a series of geological 
strata. The rock formations are dated in the past, yet they all 
lie here together in the present. And if I can predict what will 
overlie them as a new stratum, there must be something real of 
the future that even now makes my prediction true; otherwise, 
my judgment would be mere hypothesis, not truth. In general, 
whenever prediction is possible, there must be something of the 
future in the present which makes my predictions true: in the 
present reality of the comet, something which makes me certain 
of its return; in the earth, something which makes me certain 
of its continued revolution; nature, like man, must have its plans 



DE WITT H. PARKER 173 

and its habits. The present is, therefore, no knife-edge, nor even 
of the limited breadth of a saddle-back, but as broad as history 
and prophecy. 

The considerations adduced are fatal to the vie\v of time as a 
series of instants comparable to the series of points on a line, 
and might serve to reinforce Bergson's critique. And it does not 
help matters at all to multiply the number of points to infinity, 
so long as the points and correlative instants are taken to be 
exclusive and repellent of their neighbours. Yet because time is 
not a series like that of the points on a line, it does not follow 
that it is no series at all, and that there is not a very definite 
order among its parts. In my book, The Self and Nature, I sug- 
gested that time might better be viewed as a series of over- 
lapping areas, of which a series of concentric circles is the simplest 
illustration. Adopting this analogy for the moment, it is clear 
that the area of the outermost circle would represent the present, 
and the area of each inner circle would represent the parts of 
further presents which have been conserved; and since some 
part of each present always is conserved, there would be as many 
circles as there are 'moments 1 of past time, each moment con- 
taining within itself parts of all preceding moments. There would 
be no first moment (circle), and there would be a part of the 
total area contained in all circles or moments, namely the point 
that would be the limit of the series of diminishing circles. This 
point would represent the eternal part of reality. This analogy, 
like all static images of dynamic reality, is, of course, defective 
in that it does not provide for new presents, for growth. To 
remedy this defect, it is necessary to conceive of new circles being 
continually added on. However, this defect does not touch the 
main points of the discussion the serial character of time and 
the non-exclusiveness of moments, for the laying down of new 
circles would occur in ordinal fashion, and the later circles would 
include the earlier. There is, nevertheless, one serious defect in 
the analogy, the failure to represent the inclusion of the future 
in the present; but, with some ingenuity, this could be remedied. 
The important fact of 'leakage' is represented by the diminishing 
area of the inner circles, while the growing area of the outer 



174 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

circles represents the increasing complexity of the present as 
compared with the past. Moreover, if the theory of relativity is 
true I do not think that philosophy can yd assume that it is 
true there would have to be as many circles as there are centres 
of experience, overlapping, to be sure, but never quite identical. 

Space, no more than time, is a substance; but, as Leibniz 
asserted, a relation between substances. Moreover, as Guyau 
already knew, and as we are certain from the work of Minkowski 
and Einstein, space cannot be understood apart from time. 
Naturally, I can merely sketch what I believe to be the true 
picture of space. For example, the location of a thing is clearly 
ambiguous, if the entire thing, circumference as well as centre, 
is taken into account ; for each percept of the thing is in a different 
place. For this reason, it is best to restrict the place of the thing 
to the place of its focus. Thus restricted, to choose the most 
interesting case, the place of the human mind turns out to be the 
same as the place of the brain, as Sellars has maintained. But, of 
course, place is nothing in itself, and one place can be defined 
only in relation to other places. A place is an office, and just as 
men may exchange their offices, as when two professors exchange 
their chairs for a year, so they may exchange their places ; that 
is, the relations which A had are now had by B, and vice versa. 
Not all relations are relevant, but only the relation which may be 
called by a variety of names influence, determination, com- 
munication. To be in the same space with another thing is to 
be able to influence, determine, communicate with that thing. 
In terms of this relation we can define what is meant by one thing 
being between two other things : A is between B and C, when, 
in terms of a certain type of process, if B is to influence C, it must 
first influence A; and conversely, if C is to influence A, it must 
also influence B. Three things have this order 'on the same 
straight line/ when a light signal, in order to reach C from B, 
must first pass through A. Again, one thing is in the neighbour- 
hood of another, or is close to another, when, in order to com- 
municate with that other, it can do so without first communi- 
cating with relatively many other substances. The 'dependence 
of space upon time is shown by the necessity for using the concept 



DE WITT H. PARKER 175 

of temporal sequence in order to make these definitions. Distance 
can also be defined through the concept of communication in 
union with the concept of sequence. For one thing is nearer than 
another to a third, if in terms of a given process you can com- 
municate with the one sooner than you can communicate with 
the other, starting from the third. Since, finally, metrical 
geometric relations can be reduced to ordinal relations, all 
spatial relations can be reduced to temporal relations, with the 
use of the concept of communication. Distance, 'spreadoutness/ 
voluminousness, etc., are secondary, not primary qualities of the 
world. Owing, however, to the tri-dimensionality of space, the 
carrying out of these definitions is extremely complicated; and 
if the theory of relativity is true, order itself, and therefore 
distance and location, are not determinate in certain cases. 

Are space and time continuous or discontinuous, or is there 
some meaning in which they are both? Contemporary physics 
seems to answer, Both; and with regard to the special problems 
of science, metaphysics, standing in the position of humble 
learner, has nothing to say of her own. Yet in view of the fluctu- 
ating character of opinion in physics to-day, it is hazardous to 
accept any result as final; and, on the other hand, if the method 
.of radical empiricism is acknowledged to be true, metaphysics 
has, I believe, something to contribute to the general problem. 
For if we are in earnest in taking the mind as the 'type-pheno- 
menon/ we shall be inclined to accept as generally valid, the 
sort of continuity and discontinuity exemplified there. And what 
do we find when we examine experience? We find a basic con- 
tinuity in the two fundamental dimensions of experience, its 
flow and its extension (the one corresponding to time and the 
other to space), and upon this continuity there is superposed 
discontinuity. Thus the 'advance' into the future of my experi- 
ence is sensibly continuous, yet is broken by the discontinuity 
of the strokes of the campus clock as I hear them during the day; 
thus my visual field is sensibly continuous in the sense that there 
are no parts of it empty of colour, yet this continuity is overlaid 
with the discontinuities of the differences in colour between one 
patch and another. 



176 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

The empirical continuity is, however, far from being continuity 
in the Cantorean sense, but rather in the sense of Aristotle, of 
unbrokenness and wholeness. In the empirical continuum there 
are no Dedikindean cuts, but party walls. In history, for example, 
there are no division lines between one age and another say 
between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; in the growth 
of the man, there is no point of time before which he is a child 
and after which he is a youth. A little way before, we can say, 
now he is a child, and a little way after, now he is an adolescent ; 
but there is a stretch of time during which it is impossible to 
distinguish child from youth. So in space; some distance this 
side, I can say, now I am in this object; and some distance that 
side, now I am in that object, but there will be a stretch of space 
within which the objects are one. Empirically, things fuse at the 
edges, and at the edges the principle of excluded middle docs not 
apply. It is a mere dogma to insist that it must apply everywhere; 
whatever validity the principles of logic have is empirically 
grounded. Nevertheless, I would not go the whole way with 
Bergson; for while insisting on the wholeness and unbrokenness 
of the empirical continuum, I believe that distinctions exist 
within it, except at the edges, where one thing shades off into 
another. The principle of excluded middle has a limited, and only 
a limited, validity. I am therefore not surprised to learn that 
contemporary physical theory does not seek to define the position 
of a particle at an instant, but merely a certain range within 
which it may be known to exist. This is not, I should think, a 
purely 'epistemic' difficulty (to borrow the convenient term of 
W. E. Johnson), but a metaphysical state of affairs. Following 
the guidance of the radically empirical facts, we shall expect 
the universe to contain an enormous number of centres of experi- 
ence, of varying degrees of complexity, communicating with each 
other, some more directly, some more indirectly, through few or 
many intermediaries; and finally constituting as a whole a 
continuous unbroken substance, for the reason that there is 
direct contact between foci nearest to each other, in a next to 
next fashion. Thus, while there is discontinuity and only in- 
direct communication between one man and another, there is 



DE WITT H. PARKER 177 

direct and continuous communication between a man's mind 
and his body; or what is the same thing, between the nervous 
system and the somatic processes of the body: no one knows 
where the mind begins and the body ends. Certainly in the 
sensory processes, at the point where stimulus and reaction 
meet, and perhaps in many an obscure impulse, the mind of the 
nervous system and the 'mind' of the 'soma' overlap, 

Once the non-empirical and approximate character of the 
Cantorean continuum is recognized, there remains no reason for 
believing either that there are an infinite number of foci or that 
each is infinitely complex. Empirically, we have what may be 
called an Aristotelian continuum, with a finite number of indi- 
viduals enmeshed within it, both in extension and in flow; and 
while it is true that the success of physics in applying the differ- 
ential calculus to nature seems to be a good argument for belief 
in nature's infinite complexity, two considerations on the other 
side are relevant. First, the application of the calculus is never 
more than approximate; and, second, recent researches into the 
foundations of the theory of functions, notably by such men as 
Brouwer and Weyl, have at least cast doubt upon the soundness 
of the structure completed by Cantor. It is my own opinion that 
the familiar paradoxes of the infinite have never been satisfactorily 
explained away, and that, viewed as an existence, an infinite 
collection is a self-contradictory notion. (I once ventured this 
opinion to Mr. Russell, who told me that if I had studied the 
matter for thirty years as he had, I would reach a different con- 
clusion; I have to confess that I have studied it for only twenty 
years, and that not continuously.) It is again my personal opinion, 
which, however, I now hold with less diffidence than a decade 
ago, that the whole notion of existence should be abandoned in 
the philosophy of the infinite, and rules of construction sub- 
stituted. Thus, instead of postulating in a dense point set that 
there exists a point between any two points, it should be postu- 
lated that I may construct one between any two whenever I 
want to; and, of course, I shall never get more than a finite 
number. In Aristotelian phraseology, the infinite is at best 
potential, never actual. This is certainly true of time; obviously 

VOL. II M 



178 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

of the future, the stages of which are not, as such, actual; but it 
is no less true of the past, for, as we have seen, the past exists 
either as persisting substance, within which no stages can be 
distinguished, since it is identical both in the present and in the 
past, or as memory and record, which never reveal more than a 
finite number of events. 

These considerations relative to continuity and discontinuity 
are incompatible with an atomistic interpretation of mind and 
nature. The fact that, judging from history, atomism seems to 
be congenial to science, cannot weigh against its falsity from a 
radically empirical point of view. And to-day the inadequacy of 
atomism is receiving wide recognition; in psychology, notably 
by the members of the Gestalt school, and in the philosophy of 
science, by Whitehead, who recognizes that point, instant, and 
even event, when conceived atomistically, are constructions, not 
facts. Whole and part, not element and complex, are the meta- 
physically valid categories. Atomism has, to be sure, a last 
refuge to-day in the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgen- 
stein; but, once more, the facts require a different interpretation, 
There is no living philosopher who is not in debt to these thinkers 
none more than I am nor do I suppose that one can refute 
this doctrine in a paragraph; but, to my thinking, the unity or 
wholeness of the proposition is falsified by atomism; the assumed 
'simples' are constructions, not facts; and a logic that has no 
room for general facts as such and denies the logical connection 
between present and future is clearly inadequate. But to return 
to the exposition of my philosophical credo. 

Every centre of experience is in communication, directly or 
indirectly, with every other. (If the theory of relativity is true, 
there are exceptions to this, when the separation between centres 
is space-like.) This implies mutual determination, but allows for 
the relative isolation of systems. Moreover, every event that 
occurs is a response, determined partly from within its own 
centre, and partly by its 'neighbourhood/ There is no absolute 
spontaneity; for without the relations between one centre and 
another, nothing would happen; yet there is freedom in the 
sense that every event is determined from within its own relatively 



DE WITT H. PARKER 179 

isolated home. Every fact is a co-operative deed. We think of a 
painting as the work of the artist, but his mind would be in- 
effective without his hand, his paint, and his canvas; these must 
lend themselves to his effort, and the product is their joint act. 
Every event is, therefore, multiply determined and richer in its 
significance than immediately appears. In the end, the entire 
universe is implicated; yet, for all this, there is freedom; for if 
the world has made me what I am, I in turn have made the 
world. 

One reason for the denial of even so limited a spontaneity as 
this, is a false view of time. For if, as according to old views of 
time, the past were discontinuous with the present, and the 
present were its mere effect, there could obviously be no self- 
determination anywhere in the universe. But if, as I would 
maintain, the past exists in the present, its control over the 
present is the present's own control of itself. We cannot, for 
example, shift the blame for our conduct upon our hereditary 
past; for our heredity exists and operates within ourselves; 
hence in blaming it we blame ourselves. If we say, The past has 
made me what I am/ the answer is, 'You are that past that 
made you/ 

Any statement of a philosophical credo to-day must include 
some stand with reference to the subject of evolution, especially 
as interpreted in the sense of 'emergence/ creative evolution, 
discontinuity of levels. And here my stand is far from the con- 
temporary orthodoxy. In the first place, I am unable, with 
Bergson and Alexander, to regard evolution as a category of the 
universe. Evolution, I believe, is an affair of the part, not of 
the whole of reality. Individual systems rise, flourish and decay, 
but the universe 'has no seasons/ Moreover, it is my conviction 
that what we call the inorganic physical world is a higher system 
than either the vital or the human. This is, I admit, a matter 
about which it is difficult to offer demonstrative arguments; but 
such reasons as I have are the following: First, a negative argu- 
ment. The superior complexity of biological facts from a chemical 
point of view is not an argument against my belief, since if you 
take the larger physical systems as wholes, like the solar system, 



180 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

for example, with all the phenomena they include, they are un- 
doubtedly more complex than the organism. The philosophy of 
evolution has made the mistake of comparing the atom with the 
cell; instead of comparing the cell with, for example, the sun. 
This procedure is as false as it would be to judge the capacity 
of the organism as a whole with the capacity of the cell. Without 
doubt the atom is lowlier than the cell, but atoms are members 
of vast physical systems, possessed of their own individuality 
and way of existence, and these systems are incomparably higher 
in the scale than a man. Second, the more recent philosophy of 
physics tends to break down the sharpness of the distinction 
between the physical and the biological, in extending the concept 
of organism to the atom and the electron, and in recognizing a 
realm of physical chemistry. Last, physical systems are more 
permanent and stable than vital organisms, and with me, at any 
rate, this is an argument for their superiority. The contemporary 
mind does not feel the force of this consideration because of its 
romantic predilection for the transient and wayward in short, 
for the pathetic. The Greek worship of the stars and Plotinus's 
notion of emanation represent, I believe, a truer conception of 
man's place in the universe than contemporary naturalism, 
which places man at the pinnacle of reality. 

I find, however, a single valuable idea in the contemporary 
concept of emergence, namely a recognition of a strain of irration- 
ality in existence. I have already insisted on this from other 
points of view. Here the emphasis is on the irrational element 
in causation. We are told that at certain 'critical' points in the 
world process, namely in the transition from physical to chemical 
action, from chemical to vital, from vital to mental, new types of 
behaviour and new qualities emerge, which, while determined 
by the earlier phases of existence, in the sense of growing out of 
them and being impossible without them, are nevertheless un- 
predictable from the earlier and irreducible to the system of the 
earlier phases. This concept of emergence is, by the way, not 
new; for one finds it in Schopenhauer long before Lloyd Morgan, 
Boutroux, Alexander, or Sellars. My chief point of criticism, and 
the only one I shall make here, is that the restriction of this 



DE WITT H. PARKER 181 

irrational aspect of causality to a few spots is unwarranted. Our 
greatest American philosopher, Charles Peirce, had the truer 
vision in recognizing the presence of irrationality in all causality; 
and in what I am about to write I am following the spirit, if not 
the letter, of his thought. What I have in mind is this : law, and 
hence predictability, are secondary, not primary. It is true that, 
as we have seen, every event is determined as growing out of 
some system; but how it shall grow when the system contains 
novel elements can never be known beforehand; and there 
always 'emerges/ therefore, something unknown to the world 
hitherto. It is only after such an event has once happened that 
we can predict that, under the same circumstances, it will happen 
again; for by reason of its very happening, a habit or tendency 
to happen thus again has been established. Every new habit grows 
out of an old one, but when the old habit functions under novel 
conditions, its new development is never subject to exact formu- 
lation. Moreover, no situation in the world is ever quite new or 
quite old; hence everything that happens is at once subject to 
law and also beyond law. Law defines only the limits within 
which an event will take place, and these limits are precisely 
fixed; but within their bounds there is free play. 

In contrast to all forms of materialism and naturalism, 
descended from the ancient line of Leucippus, Democritus, 
Epicurus, and Lucretius, which hold that value is a mere accident, 
incident, or epiphenomenon in the world, confined to certain 
so-called 'high level' regions, and that, therefore, there might 
well have been a world without value, I would maintain that 
value and existence are always correlative. This was the supreme 
insight of the counter-tradition of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, 
and Aristotle. There are certain facts within experience which 
are, I should say, obviously impossible apart from value: the 
song of the prima donna, the deed of love, the wine shared with 
friends. To suppose, as materialism does, that these things could 
be without their value is plain topsy-turveydom in philosophy. 
And such facts reveal clearly the nature of all value, as satis- 
faction of wish, or anticipation or memory of satisfaction of 
wish, usually all three together, since a wish fulfils itself in stages, 



182 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

looking before and after. Yet experience contains other things 
that are not so obviously values: the green colour and smell of 
grass, the pattern of a crystal, the shape of a cloud. Wherever in 
the mind the activities function and give form to percepts, there 
is value undeniable; but in the case of other percepts, where our 
experience is determined, not so much from within as from 
without, there is no obvious value. Yet even such facts, I should 
claim, are correlative with value; and I take my stand on the 
type-phenomenon, which is for me the key to the interpretation 
of the universe. For consider the song that I hear; this is a 
percept that no wish of mine has determined; yet some wish 
has determined it, for without some stirring in the breast of the 
singer, not only not she, but also not I, would hear it. Every 
percept is, similarly, determination from without, and also 
communication of value. Even the shape of the cloud, the pattern 
of the crystal, the smell and scent of grass, are the expression of 
some wish, somewhere in the world. I admit that I have no 
sympathetic understanding of these values; yet to use the 
example of James neither has the cat any understanding of the 
sonata that wakes her slumber. And while the value of some 
percepts is not a value for me, it is a value for me that I have all 
the percepts that I do have, because the whole structure of my 
own values is made secure only by working in cooperation with 
the external forces that control my percepts, and of which my 
percepts are a sign. 

It has been the assumption of certain forms of religious senti- 
ment that we are able to understand the values expressed in 
what we call the forces of nature, and that these forces are biased 
in our favour. But this is, I believe, a great mistake. There is no 
reason to suppose that man plays more than an insignificant part 
in the cosmic drama. The more mystical types of religion have 
recognized this in conceiving the glory of God, rather than the 
welfare of man, as the highest good. The passion of love, which, 
like religion, has often claimed a supermoral justification, is also 
a witness to this in its high contempt for prudential and con- 
ventional values, as if it knew itself to be serving larger interests 
that work themselves out in the biological, as distinct from the 



DE WITT H. PARKER 183 

human and social facts of the organism. However this be, it is 
certain that no easy optimism regarding man's destiny follows 
from the recognition of the union of value and existence. For the 
values of one centre of experience are too often bought at the 
cost of the values of other centres. The universe is the theatre 
for a mighty conflict of wills, and without sacrifice there can be 
no good anywhere. There is, nearest to us, the conflict of wishes 
within each self; there is man's conflict with his fellows; the 
disharmony, as exemplified by death, between himself and the 
purely biologic facts of his organism; and finally, the conflict 
between the human mind and its inorganic 'environment.' This 
last the inorganic world is the final arbiter of our fate, and 
to its will all other wills must bow. Nevertheless, it is possible 
to exaggerate these conflicts, forgetting the inner peace of the 
good man and the equilibrium of wishes attained in the imagina- 
tion through art; forgetting mutual aid among men and the fact 
that it is nature herself that, having permitted the new manner 
of existence we call life, and later the human mind, still sustains 
us. Our adaptation to the environment is also its adaptation to 
us. Nature is ever the Great Mother. Yet this we know, that 
whatever harmony is attained either by man or by nature is no 
'easy beauty/ but a beauty founded upon conflict, the 'difficult' 
beauty of tragedy. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

The Self and Nature. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 
1917.) Pp. 316. 

The Principles of Aesthetics. (Boston: Silver, Burdett & Co., 1920.) 
Pp. 366. 

The Analysis of Art. (New Haven: The Yale University Press, 1926.) 
Pp. 190. 

"L'Esthtique de Kant: Une Appreciation," in Homines (published 
at Etichove, Belgium. No. i, January, 1927, pp. 16-34.) 

" Introductory Essay on Schopenhauer," in Selections from Schopen- 
hauer. (The Modern Student's Library, Charles Scribner's Sons, 
1927.) 



REALISM IN RETROSPECT 



By RALPH BARTON PERRY 

Born 1876; Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University, 
Cambridge, Mass, 



REALISM IN RETROSPECT 

I. THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST IDEALISM 

I UNDERSTAND that the purpose of the present book is to deliver 
its authors from the bonds of reticence, or from that canon of 
literary taste which limits the use of the first person. I therefore 
begin with the pronoun "I," and shall use it with reckless fre- 
quency. I shall also speak out the faith that is in me, allowing 
my beliefs to override my critical conscience. To begin with, 
let me confess that when, for the purpose of recovering the past, 
I re-read my earliest writings, they impress me as extremely 
convincing, affording an unexpected confirmation of my present 
philosophical bias. Myself of twenty-five years ago committed 
blunders, no doubt, but his faults were the faults of youth and 
inexperience. His heart was in the right place. 

Such philosophical nourishment as I received in early youth was 
derived from Emerson and Carlyle. From them I caught no hint 
of transcendental metaphysics, but only a desire to be heroic. 
This influence, together with an intense adolescent religious 
experience, brought me to the threshold of manhood with a 
vague eagerness "to do good/' or to contribute something to the 
triumph of that cause of righteousness which I identified with 
Christianity. My pre-natal philosophical experience was obtained 
at Princeton, where an emeritus McCosh still walked the campus, 
and where " Jeremy " Ormond, ponderous, high-minded, and unin- 
telligible, accustomed the ear and the pen to a polysyllabic 
vocabulary. Migrating from Princeton to Harvard in the middle 
'nineties was for me a perilous spiritual adventure, an abrupt 
transition from faith to criticism. Here, for the first time, some- 
thing happened to my mind, and the vocation of the ministry was 
gradually transformed, without reaction or bitterness, into that 
of the teacher and scholar. Creeds and dogmas having become 
impossible, I thought that I had found a way in which I might 
think freely and still "do good/' It is that naive hope that has 
sustained me ever since. 

At Harvard in the late 'nineties it was, for most of us, a choice 



188 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

between James and Royce. Palmer taught us ethics, and by his 
example taught us how to teach. Santayana was historical and 
critical, Munsterberg schematic, and Everett learned. These were 
important elements in the configuration, and they generated both 
heat and light. But as regards fundamentals, whether of doctrine, 
method, or temper of mind, there was the way of Royce and 
the way of James. Royce was the battleship, heavily armoured, 
both for defence and offence. James combined the attributes of 
the light cruiser, the submarine, and the bombing aeroplane. It 
was natural to suppose that Royce was impregnable and irresis- 
tible. To surrender to him was as easy and as unexciting as to be 
a fundamentalist in Arkansas. James provided the rallying-point 
for those in whom the youthful spirit of revolt was stronger than 
tradition and prestige. Royce was the latest and nearest of a 
mighty race. His philosophy was powerfully reinforced by the 
texts of Bradley and Green, and by the great cult of Kant. His 
was the party of law and order, of piety and decency. This was 
not Royce's fault, nor did it at all adequately express his personal 
traits; but he suffered, none the less, from the taint of established 
things. So when James, overcoming his earlier fears, had the 
audacity to make jokes about the Absolute, there were Athenian 
youths who laughed with him. Many of us have, since that time, 
become sadder, and, I hope, wiser. But the spell of absolute 
idealism was irreparably broken. There arose a generation of 
younger philosophers who were, as Creighton expressed it (speak- 
ing more in sorrow than in anger), "flippant, like James. 

James's right to flippancy was well earned. In the year 1896-97 
he conducted a group of us through the text of Kant, and when, 
after months of intense effort and profound discouragement, he 
told me that I might sometimes attribute my difficulty to the 
author's obscurity or pedantry, rather than to my own feebleness, 
he conferred on me the title to a canine bark of my own even 
when Sir Oracle had spoken. James's example did not suggest 
an ignorance of philosophical literature, but it did beget in all of 
his students the habit of checking every text, no matter how 
authoritative, by their own experience. The question "What 
does the text say?" was incidental to the ulterior questions, 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 189 

" What does the author mean?" and "Is it so ?" I was not surprised, 
therefore, that upon receiving a copy of my maiden effort on 
"The Abstract Freedom of Kant/' 1 James should have written 
me expressing the hope that I might now feel justified in casting 
off the Kantian "ball and chain" which had for many years 
hampered the movements of philosophy. 

To specify my indebtedness to James is as impossible as it 
would be to enumerate the traits which I have inherited from 
my parents. In view of contemporary developments in philosophy, 
I should like, however, to record the most vivid of the doctrinal 
impressions which he left upon me in the early days. I can remem- 
ber even the stage-setting the interior of the room in Sever 
Hall, the desk with which the lecturer took so many liberties, 
and the gestures with which James animatedly conveyed to us 
the intuition of common-sense realism. From that day I confess 
that I have never wavered in the belief that our perceptual 
experience disclosed a common world, inhabited by our perceiving 
bodies and our neighbours, and qualified by the evidence of our 
senses. 2 

It was the controversial atmosphere of my early studies that 
led to my preoccupation with the shortcomings of idealism, and 
to my sustained interest in the classification of contemporary 
philosophical tendencies. 3 European and American Philosophy, 
as I saw it at the close of the nineteenth century, was a 
dispute between the extravagant claims of the party of science 
(naturalism) and the equally extravagant claims of that post- 
Kantian idealistic philosophy, which, invigorated by its trans- 
plantation from Germany to a foreign soil, had become the 
bulwark of English-speaking Protestant piety. 

It is unprofitable to quarrel over the diverse meanings of the 
term "idealism." That idealism which I went out to slay was 

1 Philosophical Review, 1900. 

* The substance of this teaching was afterwards embodied in the article 
entitled "How Two Minds Can Know One Thing/ 1 which James published 
in the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1905. 

3 "Professor Royce's Refutation of Realism and Pluralism/' Monist, 
1902; The Approach to Philosophy, 1905; Present Philosophical Tendencies, 
1912; Present Conflict of Ideals, 1918; Philosophy of the Recent Past, ig26. 



190 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

born of the marriage of subjectivism and universalism. Its proof 
seemed to me then, as it seems to me still, to consist in an unsea- 
worthy subjectivism rescued from the shipwreck of solipsism by 
the miraculous intervention of absolutism. The first premise is 
subjectivism, the doctrine, namely, that to be = to be perceived 
or thought. The second premise is universalism, the doctrine, 
namely, that being cannot be a product of human perception or 
thought, because man is a part of nature, and because the truth 
is a standard by which human perception and thought are them- 
selves to be judged and corrected. The conclusion is absolute 
idealism, the doctrine, namely, that to be = to be perceived or 
thought (or willed, or felt, or otherwise manifested) by a trans- 
finite, all-containing and infallible mind, commonly called "the 
Absolute. 1 ' 

The argument is dialectical and a priori, and its force depends 
on the truth of both premises. The critics of this reigning doctrine 
are readily divisible into two groups: those commonly called 
"realists," who have attacked the first premise; and those 
variously called "pragmatists," "instrumentalists," and "human- 
ists," who have attacked the second premise. The former group 
being united by their rejection of subjectivism, are divided 
among themselves on the question of universalism; the latter, 
being united by their rejection of universalism, are divided on 
the issue of subjectivism. Both groups reject absolute idealism, 
but while one rejects this doctrine on the score of its idealism, 
the other rejects it on the score of its absolutism. 

For the realist, then, the Absolute, construed as an individual 
mind or spirit, in which the imperfections of humanity are over- 
come and its prerogatives maximated construed, in other words, 
as a being qualified to serve at one and the same time as the 
metaphysical reality, the moral standard and the object of 
worship is the offspring of subjectivism. Such a being is not 
merely absolute: it is mind conceived as absolute. "I perceive," 
or "I judge," or "I will," or some similar act of conscious mind, 
is first supposed to be the inescapable form of reality; and since to 
identify this "I" with you or me or any or all finite creatures is 
palpably absurd, it is then inferred that there must be an "I" 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 191 

which is no creature at all, but the Creator. And, as Bradley has 
put it, what must be, is. Hence in so far as the realist refutes 
subjectivism he at the same time destroys the meaning and the 
ground of the Absolute in this idealistic sense. 

An idealist of the post-Kantian school resents being called 
a "subjectivist," but this is because he takes the term to imply 
that the "subject" in question is the natural or psychological 
subject. If "subjectivism" be used to mean that all being is the 
dependent creation of some subject, or self, or mind, whether 
finite or absolute, then, I think, the term can be applied to the 
idealist without offence. In accordance with this usage absolute 
idealism is that species of subjectivism in which the unconditioned 
and all-conditioning subject has, over and above such properties 
as make it a subject, those other properties of infinity, perfection, 
and systematic unity, which the term "Absolute" is intended to 
convey. With this understanding I shall hereinafter use the 
terms "subjectivism" and "idealism" interchangeably. 

The wide prevalence of subjectivism has always seemed to me 
to be due, in the first place, to excessive insistence on a relation 
which the reflective habits of the philosopher dispose him to 
magnify. Subjectivism exploits the relation, namely, which the 
world indubitably has to the human subject whenever he perceives 
it, or thinks about it, or otherwise concerns himself with it. He 
exploits this him-ward aspect of things metaphysically that is, 
he construes it as fundamental, or takes it as affording the deepest 
insight. The realist, on the other hand, calls attention to the fact 
that this emphasis, natural as it is, may be misleading. Thus 
when Pistol says, "Why, then the world's mine oyster," we 
recognize that he is taking liberties with the world. It is true that 
the world is, among other things, Pistol's oyster, and Pistol is 
excusable for having mentioned the fact. But if, as a philosopher, 
one were interested in making the most significant possible 
statement about the world, it would scarcely be pertinent to 
remark that the world is that which is opened by Pistol's sword. 
This is not one of those central and pregnant characteristics of the 
world of which the metaphysician is in search. In the course of 
its career the world does meet Pistol, but this conjunction does 



192 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

not determine its orbit or destiny, nor does the bivalvular aspect 
which it presents to Pistol's sword afford the best clue to its 
essential structure. 

In a sense that is at least superficially similar to Pistol's oyster, 
nature is Berkeley's percept and Kant's thought, or the idea of 
any philosopher who applies his mind to it. And it is not strange 
that sooner or later some philosopher should have taken this 
fact as the key to metaphysics. But the realist is one who is 
disposed, until more decisive evidence is advanced, to construe 
this indubitable relationship of the world to the mind that deals 
with it, as an accidental or subordinate aspect of the world. He 
refuses to assume l that knowing the world implies proprietorship. 
It is still open to him to suppose, with common sense, that the 
world lends itself to being known without surrendering itself 
wholly to that use. Such a view has its support in experiences 
that are no less authentic than Pistol's sense of ownership. If 
the idealist is justified in saying with Margaret Fuller, "I accept 
the universe," the realist is equally justified in remarking with 
Carlyle, "By gad, she'd better." 

The question of the place of knowing mind in the universe, 
whether central or peripheral, is complicated by what I have 
called the "ego-centric predicament." 2 This was a successful bit 
of phrase-making, if one is to judge by the frequency with which 
it has been misunderstood. My purpose in introducing the phrase 
was to call attention to the fact that idealists have used as an 
argument what is, in fact, only a difficulty. The difficulty or pre- 
dicament consists in the fact that the extent to which knowledge 
conditions any situation in which it is present cannot be dis- 
covered by the simple and conclusive method of direct elimination. 
I cannot see what things look like when my eyes are shut, or 
judge the effect of extinguishing my thought. If I cognize a in any 
way, shape, or manner, I am not cognizing a in the absence of 
that way, shape, or manner of cognition. This is, of course, a 

1 Arbitrarily to assign the leading role to a predicate merely because it 
happens to come first in the order of discovery or of discourse, has been 
called the "Fallacy of Initial Predication" (The New Realism, 1912, p. 15). 

a "The Ego-Centric Predicament/ 1 Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, 
and Scientific Method, 1910. 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 193 

truism, and in itself of no significance whatever. It does, however, 
bring to light the fact that the question which subjectivism 
raises is unique. In order that the question shall be answered at 
all, it is necessary to introduce the very factor, namely, the 
answering mind, which in examining this question it would be 
convenient to exclude. It follows that either the question must 
remain unanswered or that it must be attacked in some more 
indirect and perhaps less conclusive manner. If, for example, one 
can find out what the cognizing mind is and what it does, one 
can then discount its presence, or learn how much of the situation 
to ascribe to it. 

Idealism has been guilty, historically, of arguing from what is 
only a methodological difficulty. It has created the appearance 
of a significant affirmation by concealing a redundancy. No one 
would think it worth while to say, "It is impossible for me to 
discover anything which is, when I discover it, undiscovered by 
me/' or, "It is impossible that anything should remain totally 
unknown after it has become known" ; but to say, "It is impossible 
to discover anything that is not thought," or, "It is impossible 
to find anything that is not known," has seemed to many 
idealists to be the beginning of philosophical wisdom in spite 
of the fact that the self-evidence of the last two propositions 
consists entirely in the fact that "discover" and "thought," "find" 
and "known," are taken as meaning the same thing. 

My contention has been, then, that the "ego-centric predica- 
ment" creates not the slightest presumption either for idealism 
or for realism. It is equally compatible with either alternative, 
although it has been, and still is, very generally supposed to 
nourish idealism and to stick in the crop of realism. 



So far idealism is seen to rest on bias or ambiguity. The 
other arguments which have been advanced in its behalf are 
deserving of more respectful consideration, since they appeal to 
material facts for which any alternative theory must provide. 

The oldest of the idealistic arguments are those which idealism 
shares with scepticism. Idealism has been held sometimes to be 

VOL. II N 



194 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

scepticism, sometimes to furnish the only authentic escape from 
it. Arguments of this general class may be summarily treated 
under the heads of "physiological relativism" and "psychological 
relativism." 

Physiological relativism rests on the fact that sensation is 
doubly conditioned: externally, by a physical stimulus; and 
internally by the position, properties, and state of the organism. 
Sensation is then construed as the joint product or appearance 
created by these factors. At this point of the argument three alter- 
natives diverge. The confirmed sceptic will hold that sensation, 
untrustworthy as it is, affords the only knowledge we possess, 
since thought is only its paler reflection. This is idealism of a 
sort, but a bankrupt, insolvent idealism patently self-contra- 
dictory. The two remaining alternatives are realistic. The physico- 
chemical realist credits scientific thought as a way of escape from 
the subjective relativities of sensation. The agnostic realist, 
holding with the sceptic that physico-chemical concepts are only 
reproductions of sense-experience, and equally subjective, still 
credits the residual reflection that sense-experience is produced 
by the action of something he knows not how upon something 
he knows not what. It is clear that, whatever their validity, 
arguments from physiological relativism afford small comfort 
to the idealist. 

Psychological relativism is a scepticism of thought rather than 
of sense; indeed, it is often used as an argument in support of 
sense. The argument rests on the fact of prejudice. Thought is 
held to be an effect of emotion, will, habit, imitation, historical 
development, or social milieu; and reality, as man thinks it, to be 
a mere projection of human bias. Here, again, three paths diverge. 
If, in the first place, one appeals from thought to sense on the 
ground that sense is externally controlled, one moves in the 
direction of the scepticisms and realisms already considered. The 
second alternative is to rest in the relativity of thought, or to 
accept psychological scepticism as the last word. This view, that 
the world is what man thinks it, and that man's thinking of it 
varies from individual to individual and from time to time, is a 
widespread doctrine in modern philosophy; but it is not that 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 195 

idealism with which I am here concerned. The third alternative, 
the absolute idealism which modern realism seeks to slay, is an 
idealism which has already slain and devoured scepticism, and 
which rests its claim to acceptance largely upon that conquest. 
Psychological relativism is held to be intolerable, because it gives 
equal credit to contradictory human assertions, and because, 
since it places nature inside of a mind which is itself inside of 
nature, it is viciously circular. Realism and absolute idealism 
here take the same ground, and both attribute to thought a power 
to recognize and transcend its own relativities. The difference 
lies in the nature of this corrective thought. For realism its nature 
lies in its more perfect fidelity to fact, or in its more dispassionate 
and colourless objectivity. For idealism its nature lies in its 
profounder and more authoritative subjectivity. For realism 
thinking truly is a conformity of mind to the given reality, while 
for idealism thinking truly is a conformity of the finite mind to 
a universal mind. 1 

This resort to absolute idealism as the way of escape from 
psychological relativism involves two steps, both of which the 
realist refuses to take. The first step is to discredit sense-percep- 
tion. The relative passivity of this mode of experience, instead of 
being construed as a mark of cognitive superiority because it 
suggests a deference of the knowing mind to its objects, is con- 
strued as a mark of inferiority because the genius of the mind 
itself is too imperfectly manifested. Sense becomes a virtual, 
incipient, or degraded form of thought. The absolute idealist can 
usually be recognized by his insistence that pure sensation is a 
myth, but pure or impure he can hardly deny it, and it still 
remains as one of his most serious stumbling-blocks. 

The second step is to construe thought as essentially creative. 
There is a widespread disposition (a disposition connected, no 

1 Since this universal mind may be itself governed by will or emotion, as 
well as by cold logic, absolute idealism does not necessarily imply the 
rejection of moral, aesthetic, or religious experiences as sources of meta- 
physical insight. Any idealizing activity of mind, in which man recognizes 
the gap between aspiration and present attainment, may be taken as a 
revelation of that standard spiritual being whose self-realization furnishes 
the motive force of creation. 



196 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

doubt, with the common-sense dogma that if things are not 
physical they must be mental) to suppose that the objects of 
thought, such as laws, mathematical quantities and forms, 
principles, categories, concepts, universals, necessities, possibili- 
ties, relations, and systematic unities, are the creatures of thought. 
Since the orderly structure of nature, as exhibited in the sciences, 
would fall to pieces without such connective tissue, this supposi- 
tion is of decisive consequence, and is chiefly responsible for the 
hold of modern idealism upon those "tougher" minds which are 
not affected by its sentimental appeal. 

Hence the rejection of a subjectivistic logic, and mathematics 
is one of the major arguments in the realistic polemic. Claiming 
the support of Socrates and Plato, and alliance with the whole 
stream of philosophical doctrine down through the Scholastics 
and Cartesians, modern realism distinguishes between the imagina- 
tive play of speculative thought, on the one hand, and, on the 
other hand, those moments of insight, acceptance, or contempla- 
tion in which the mind is confronted by a being not of its own 
making. Thought has moments in which its own caprice is super- 
seded by specificities, connections, and consequences as intrusive 
and inexorable as the resistance of material bodies. One may 
think what one will, but having thought one finds oneself involved 
in natures and relations which have a way of their own, a way 
which must now be loyally followed if one is to think truly. The 
realms of mathematics and logic are not governed by psychological 
laws, but by laws intrinsic to themselves. Idealists recognize this 
autonomy, and thereupon extend and exalt the meaning of mind 
to embrace the larger domain. But to confer the term "mind" 
upon the intelligible features of the world, whether viewed 
abstractedly in hierarchies of categories, or concretely in the 
systematic unity of nature, can serve no useful purpose. It adds 
jgthing to our understanding of that specific mode of natural 
ex j|ence associated with animal bodies from which the term 
"mina' derives ^ s original meaning, while at the same time it 
invests e "rt^gikle features of the world with an aspect of 
complaisaif 6 to man ' an( * *kus fl atters hopes that it does not 
really justify* 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 197 

No summary of idealistic arguments would be complete without 
mention of that argument which idealism shares with spiritualism. 
The distinctive mark of modern idealism is, I believe, its annexa- 
tion of the object to the act or state or mode of knowledge, 
whether in the Berkeleyan or in the Kantian manner. But modern 
idealism also absorbs and continues a strain of metaphysical 
speculation which is much older. According to this older or 
spiritualistic view, the metaphysical demand for a substantial 
being and an originating cause can be met only by self-conscious- 
ness, which, as intuitively apprehended, dissolves the dialectical 
difficulties which beset the time-worn topics of the "one and the 
many/' "the thing and its qualities/' "identity and difference/' 
"freedom and necessity," and "infinity." Mind, so it is alleged, is 
superlatively and exclusively qualified for reality. This view rests, 
however, on the assumption that the nature of mind is self- 
evident. Modern realists, for the most part, reject this alleged 
revelation in the name of patient observation and rigorous 
analysis. They regard the nature of mind, not as the primal insight, 
but as a highly complicated and baffling problem which possesses 
in an eminent degree whatever difficulties beset the problem of 
reality in general. 1 The first personal pronoun is felt to resemble a 
question-mark more than an exclamation point. 



To these counter-arguments, by which realism has disputed the 
claims of idealism, I should like to add the difference of philo- 
sophical method and attitude which has often divided these 
opposing schools. It was not an accident that realists should have 
formulated a platform and attempted collaboration. Anglo- 
American idealism, impregnated as it is with the romantic 
tradition, has encouraged the individual to regard himself as an 
authoritative organ of truth, or a fountain of lyric self-expression. 

1 I have argued that the idealist's position rests here upon a confusion 
between the apparent simplicity of the familiar or the innocence of the 
eye, and the objective simplicity which survives the effort to distinguish 
an internal multiplicity. I have termed this error "the fallacy of pseudo- 
simplicity." Cf. "Realism as a Polemic and Programme of Reform," Jour- 
nal of Philosophy, vol. vii (1910), p. 371. 



198 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

To members of such a cult every attempt to define terms or to 
organize research must necessarily be abhorrent. Realists, on the 
other hand, cling to the naive view that in the presence of com- 
mon objects two philosophical minds should be able to find some 
area of agreement, or at least to localize and formulate their 
disagreement. The realist is baffled and annoyed by what seems 
to him the arrogant obscurity of idealism, which appears to claim 
the licence of poetry without assuming its artistic responsibilities. 
For the same reasons the realist is attracted by the use of the 
mathematical method, as a possible means of rendering philo- 
sophical discourse genuinely communicative, and philosophical 
discussion profitable and conclusive. 

There is another incompatibility of temper which has divided 
idealists and realists. Idealistic metaphysics is essentially an 
a priori doctrine. Its central reality is inferred and not experienced. 
Indeed, the whole realm of human experience is disparaged as 
appearance. There is a tendency to solve problems in principle 
rather than in detail, or merely to read them by title. Since truth 
consists in the light shed by the whole on the part, since the Abso- 
lute is thus by definition the supreme solver of problems, and 
since all other minds are tainted with finitude, there is a tempta- 
tion to rest cheerfully in the midst of unconquered difficulties, 
even when they are difficulties of the philosopher's own making. 
But pious resignation is not fruitful in philosophy. Whatever be 
the reasons, it seems to me in any case to be a fact that the 
idealist has contributed nothing to our understanding of infinity 
and continuity comparable with the contributions of the mathe- 
matical logician ; and nothing to our understanding of the nature 
of consciousness, perception, matter, causality, or the relation 
of mind and body, comparable with the contributions made by 
their contemporaries of the pragmatist and realist schools. 
Idealists have been system-builders and have staked all on the 
monumental perfection of the whole. James, Bergson, Russell, 
and Whitehead, on the other hand, pay as they go. You do not 
have to be converted to their gospel in order to profit by them. 
They abound in suggestive hypothesis, shrewd observation, and 
delicate analysis which you can detach and build into your own 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 199 

thinking. The newer philosophy which has grown up in opposition 
to idealism, and which has set a fashion which even idealism is 
now adopting, has something of the fruitfulness of empirical 
science. It is achieving results which, because of their factual 
basis, may survive the decline of the systematic theories in which 
they are presently embodied. 



Such, in brief, is the train of argument by which I have justified 
my own dissent from idealism, and in which for the most part I 
have been in agreement with those of my American colleagues 
who in 1910 formulated a "Programme and First Platform/' 1 and 
in 1912 wrote in collaboration the volume entitled The 
New Realism. The defence against the idealistic argument is 
only a part of the realistic polemic, but it is the most indispensable 
part the declaration of independence, by which a new philosophy 
has sought to gain diplomatic recognition. This war of liberation 
has, it is true, been supported by an invasion of the enemy's 
territory. But here the chief weapon employed has been that 
charge of solipsism which is as familiar to idealists as to their 
opponents. Realism has, furthermore, been compelled in turn to 
consolidate and defend its own position. But the historic signifi- 
cance of the American movement at the opening of the present 
century will, I think, lie in its having revived and modern- 
ized a way of thinking which, in spite of its antiquity and 
its agreement both with science and with common sense, 
had at the close of the previous century been consigned 
to the obituary columns of the most authoritative philosophical 
organs. 

Absolute idealism, at the very moment of its seeming triumph 
over naturalism, was attacked on both flanks: on the one by 
pragmatism, and on the other by the new realism. The former 
attack came first and had already lowered the morale of the 
idealistic forces when the realistic onslaught occurred. The issue 
of the battle is decisive only in the sense that the supremacy of 
idealism is destroyed. The hopes of naturalism, as well as of 
1 Journal of Philosophy t vol. vii (1910), p. 393. 



200 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

medieval scholasticism, have revived owing to assistance received 
from unexpected quarters. The idealists, though checked, have 
rallied. Pragmatists and realists have fallen afoul of one 
another at the point of their convergent attack. Former 
enemies are fraternizing. Ranks are broken and regimental 
colours are abandoned on the field. What have realists to 
contribute to the reconstruction that now promises to follow 
after war? 

The answer to this question is too long and too recent a story 
to find a place in this brief retrospect. Furthermore, it does not 
belong, in any exclusive sense, to an account of realism. Still less 
does it belong to my own personal philosophical autobiography. 
Indeed, that which is most characteristic of the present moment 
in philosophy, as I understand it, is a confluence of currents which 
have hitherto run in separate channels. We are (and I am glad, 
as well as convinced, that it is so) less inclined than formerly to 
pride ourselves on partisan loyalties and polemical victories. A 
contemplative observer of the times would have great difficulty 
in describing its characteristic philosophical activity in terms of 
the doctrinal cleavages that were so well marked at the opening 
of the century. Its most conspicuous feature is, I think, an 
avoidance of the dualisms and disjunctions with which the influ- 
ence of Descartes is associated. This attitude is due in part to 
recent changes in science, in part to a revival of interest in ancient 
and medieval philosophy, and in part to a growing sense of the 
inadequacy of any of the sharply antithetical alternatives which 
divided the thought of the last century. Conceptions such as 
"pattern," "aspect, " "pure experience/ 1 "essence," "emergence," 
"event" owe their present vogue to the hope of healing the breach 
between mind and matter, soul and body, religion and science, 
teleology and mechanism, or substance and attribute. Viewed 
in the light of this conjunctive or reconciling motive, there is a 
recognizable strain of similarity in the thought of James, Bergson, 
Husserl, Alexander, Bosanquet, McTaggart, Stout, Whitehead, 
Russell, Broad, Dewey, Santayana, Strong, Montague, and Holt. 
It would be pretentious and unwarranted for realism to claim the 
credit for this tendency, but it would be blind to deny that the 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 201 

Anglo-American realism of the first decade of the century helped 
notably to prepare the way. 1 

II. A PRACTICAL CREED AND THE REASONS WHY 

That element in my composition which inclined me in earlier 
years to the Christian ministry is accountable, no doubt, for my 
sustained interest in moral philosophy, 2 an interest which in 
recent years had broadened to embrace the whole realm of " value/' 
The passing of years, the habit of philosophizing, and, perhaps, 
the changed atmosphere of the times, have combined to give 
this interest more of reflective detachment and less of that reform- 
ing zeal which once burned within me. 

At the foundation of my moral philosophy lies a temper of 
mind which I take to be the same as that which has led me to the 
rejection of idealism in other fields. Knowledge I regard as essen- 
tially a facing of facts, the conforming of a belief to that which, 
relatively to the belief, is antecedent and fixed. As between 
knowing and the object-to-be-known, it is the latter which, under 
the rules of this particular game, makes the first cast of the die. 
It is a case of "I match you," or, to use a better analogy, the lock 
is prior to the key. If the cogitans-key does not fit and unlock 
the cogitandum-lock, then it is the key and not the lock which 
has failed, and for which a better must be found. One who identi- 
fies himself fundamentally with this view of the role of cognitive 
mind, finds himself committed to a certain fundamental attitude 
in practical philosophy. He will endeavour, in taking account of 
his cosmic fortunes, to purge himself of preconceptions and of 
emotional bias. He will not ignore the human tendency to fashion 
reality after the human heart, or in accordance with human ways 
of thinking; on the contrary, he will be peculiarly alive to these 
disturbing factors in order, if possible, to correct the findings of 
his compass. Nor will he, merely because he does not wish to be 
blinded by the emotions, be in the least inclined to disparage 
them. The love of a fellow-creature may be the most sacred and 

1 Cf. my article entitled, "Peace without Victory in Philosophy/' 
Journal of Philosophical Studies, vol. iii. (1928), p. 300. 
* Cf. The Moral Economy, 1909. 



202 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the most powerful thing in a man's life, and yet, like a good 
physician, he may most scrupulously refuse to allow his hopes 
and fears to colour his judgment of the facts. He may realize that 
if his knowledge is to serve his passion, it must first be dispassion- 
ate. To the realist it is not even necessary that belief should be 
limited to evident facts. The man who can best afford to indulge 
in "over-beliefs/' or in a faith supported by love and hope, is 
the man who is aware of the difference between cash and credit 
or between science and poetry. It is confusion, and not feeling, 
imagination, or conviction, which the knowing mind has most to 
fear. 

In this context there is one specific doctrine that I should like 
to single out for special emphasis. It is essential to realism that a 
fact should not be construed as the creation of that act of mind 
which we designate as the knowing of it. But this does not at all 
imply that the fact in question should be non-mental. It would, 
of course, be palpably absurd for a realist, as for any other 
philosopher, to deny that there are mental facts. That which at 
any given moment I undertake to know may even be an act of 
my own cognition. In such a case there are two acts of cognition 
the act-of-cognition-to-be-known, and the superadded act-of- 
knowing-it, both acts falling within that complex unity which the 
first personal pronoun is used to designate. What is true of cogni- 
tion is a fortiori true of emotion. While emotion must not deflect 
knowledge, or substitute its own fond imagining for the intended 
object, an emotion is itself a kind of fact. Hence it is in no wise 
inconsistent with a fundamental realism to suppose that good and 
evil are emotionally conditioned. 

Let me restate as simply as possible a view for which I have 
elsewhere argued at length. 1 The value of any object, in the most 
inclusive sense, as distinguished from its indifference, consists 
of that object's moving quality. Positive value (good) embraces 
the various modes of attractiveness, such as "desired," "loved," 
"joyous," "charming," "alluring," "auspicious"; negative value 
(bad) embraces the various modes of repulsiveness, such as 
"odious," "alarming," "portentous," "distasteful." In taking 
1 General Theory of Value, 1926. 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 203 

this view, I dissent from those who hold that the positive value 
of an object consists in its colour, shape, unity, harmony, or 
universality its negative value in the absence of these characters, 
or in their opposites; and I dissent from those who hold that 
"good" and "bad' 1 are terms for which there are no equivalents, 
referring to unique qualities other than such as are mentioned 
above. I do not, of course, mean to deny that unified, 
harmonious, or universal objects are good, but only that if 
this be so it means that unity, harmony, and universality 
arc attractive. 

In the next place, attractiveness consists in attracting, and 
rcpulsiveness consists in repelling. In taking this view I dissent 
from those who hold that the various modes of attractiveness 
and repulsiveness can inhere in objects unrelated to minds. 
Attractiveness and repulsiveness are not those elements in an 
object by virtue of which it evokes feeling or will, they are the 
evoking of will and feeling and mean nothing apart from motor- 
affective response. 

Finally, in order that a given individual may know that an 
object possesses the moving quality which constitutes value, 
it is not necessary that he should be moved by it; any more than, 
in order to know that an object is destructive, it is necessary that 
he should be destroyed by it. In the knowing of value the knower's 
own will and feeling is no more involved than in his knowing of 
anything else. It is true that in so far as I am conscious of being 
attracted or repelled by an object I know that that object is good 
or evil, but such evidence is no more authentic than the conscious- 
ness that somebody else is attracted or repelled by it. In taking 
this view I dissent from those idealists who hold that the know- 
ledge of an object's value is inseparably one with the emotional 
response which makes it valuable. According to idealism, there 
can be no such thing as the discovery or recognition of a value 
already there, nor can a value possess that character of indepen- 
dence which facts are assumed to possess when they are cited in 
proof or disproof of judgments made about them. 

Idealism seems to me, here again, to reduce to the same unten- 
able alternatives solipsism, relativism, absolutism. The solipsist 



204 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

says, "Only what I approve is good, only what I disapprove 
is evil." Idealistically he cannot be argued from his position, 
because it has been conceded to him in advance that he can know 
values only in the approving or disapproving act of making them. 
Relativism is the illegitimate generalization of this position 
doubly illegitimate: first, because the generalization itself claims 
to be true about values, despite the fact that it is neither an 
approval nor a disapproval; second, because solipsists contradict 
one another. One solipsist is justified in saying: 'This, since 
it attracts me, is good"; another, in saying: "Since it does not 
attract me, it is not good." Thereupon idealism enters and re- 
deems a situation for which it is itself responsible. The prerogative 
of creating values in the act of knowing them is now reserved for 
a universal Approver and Disapprover, alleged to be the real will 
and feeling of all finite individuals, or their will and feeling when 
they will and feel as they ought. An original idealistic sin is atoned 
by a tardy idealistic repentance. The remedy is gratuitous, since 
the disease was avoidable; and it is ineffectual, since the resulting 
problem of the relation between the Absolute and finite man is 
only a new name for the old problems with which the whole 
inquiry began. 

The issue is central to ethics and the social sciences, since it 
touches the question of the logic of moral reasoning. Realism 
transcends moral egoism from the outset, judgments of right and 
wrong being attested, not by the will and feeling of the judge, but 
by wills and feelings generally. Similarly, authority, whether of 
conscience, State, or God proceeds from the greater goods which 
these powers represent. If the judgment of conscience is authori- 
tative over the judgment of appetite, it is because conscience 
affirms truly that the integral good is better than any of its parts, 
which the appetite blindly denies. If the State, speaking for the 
nation, is authoritative over the individual, speaking for himself, 
it is because the good of all members of a nation is better than 
that of one of its individual members, all being greater than one. 
The authority of God has to be justified in the same way as the 
judgment which correctly sets the claims of a universe above 
those of cither individual or nation. Authority, in other words, 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 205 

attaches to a true judgment as to what is best true, namely, as 
agreeing with the nature of what is best. 

Idealism, on the other hand, must hold that as nothing can be 
known to be good save in the very act of feeling it or willing it, 
so nothing can be known to be better or best save in the act of 
preferring it. You cannot, by this logic, argue with the egoist 
except in terms of his existing bias. There is no fulcrum of fact 
by which you can dislodge him. You may seek to arouse his 
"higher self/ 1 or to appeal to his "collective will/ 1 or to quicken 
his "divine spark/* If, as unfortunately happens, you find none 
of these things in him, the matter ends there; for you have con- 
ceded in advance that so far as his judgment is concerned his 
preference shall be final. You cannot even argue that a unified 
self, or a social will, or a divine Love would be better than his 
present disposition, for on your idealistic premises he can have 
no evidence of their being better until he already possesses 
them. 

Such a philosophy tends to a confused psychology as well as 
to an impotent logic. Clinging to the common belief that person- 
ality, sociality, and humanity are objectively better, or that their 
betterness possesses a validity that is binding on all individual 
judges, the idealist imputes to all individual judges a disposition 
to prefer them. In default of observable facts, he appeals to 
latencies and virtualities. Logically, the result is to destroy the 
force of moral reasoning. An obligation cannot be said to be 
binding until it is acknowledged, but then the time for its argu- 
ment is past. If there is any virtue in moral reasoning, it must lie 
in its power to prove the claims of the ideal upon one to whom 
the ideal as yet makes no appeal: the claims of conscience 
upon the creature of passion, the claims of society upon the selfish 
individual, the claims of the State upon the lawless rebel, of 
international accord upon the chauvinist, or of piety upon the 
worldling. There is but one method by which this can be done, 
by assuming, namely, that a certain projected course of action is 
intrinsically superior, because of the greater value which it em- 
braces or promotes; that it would be superior, though no man 
should adopt it ; that it is really superior, though no man deems it 



200 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

so, or actively prefers it. Only in this way is it possible to legiti- 
mate the title of an authority when it is refused allegiance. 



I have emphasized this question of the logic of the moral 
sciences, not only because it furnishes the link between these 
fields of inquiry and a man's general philosophical position, and dis- 
tinguishes, as I believe, between the way of the realist and the way 
of the idealist ; but also because it deeply underlies the practical 
creed with which I should like to conclude this personal con- 
fession. I suspect egoism, opportunism, dictatorship, militarism, 
theocracy, and mysticism (strange bed-fellows) of being the 
practical sequel to a theory which finds the ground of authority 
in the will or feeling of the judge rather than in the correctness 
of his judgment. I myself am one of those lonely beings who used 
to be called "liberals," and who are now viewed with suspicion 
both from the left and from the right. I have always held, and 
do still hold, to that view of life which I have always supposed, 
and do still suppose, to be Christian and democratic. The best 
way, I think, is the way that provides for the happiness of man- 
kind, severally and in the aggregate. All individuals without 
exception are "equally" entitled to so much happiness as their 
multiplicity and differences, their inherent capacities, their 
common environmental resources, permit. The major problem of 
life is to promote sentiments and devise modes of organization 
by which human suffering may be mitigated, and by which every 
unnecessary thwarting of human desire may be eliminated. 

If I am asked why I define the goal of endeavour in these terms, 
my answer is simply that if happiness be good, then the happiness 
of all is better than the happiness of one, and an innocent or radiant 
and fruitful happiness is better than a happiness which is pro- 
duced at the cost of unhappiness. The pre-eminent good of the 
general happiness of sentient beings I hold to be a fact which is 
independent of judgment or sentiment, in the same sense as is 
the fact that a pair is greater than one of its members, or that a 
century of history embraces a greater span than one of its included 
decades. This greatest good may meet with neglect or cold 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 207 

indifference, without being in the least invalidated thereby. It 
is there, to be pointed out for the illumination or edification of 
mankind. From this stubborn objectivity the faculties, senti- 
ments, maxims, and institutions of men derive such legitimate 
authority as they possess; legitimate, not in the sense of any 
law formulated and enforced by God or men, but in the sense 
which the philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 
turies obscurely intended when they spoke of "natural law" or 
the "law of reason." 

It is this first principle, with its irrevocable force and its indiffer- 
ence to human ignorance or weakness, which justifies to me the 
major tenets of the Occidental and American tradition. Evil is 
as stubborn a fact as good, and there is no metaphysical sleight 
of hand by which the worse may be made the better course, 
however much it may appear to be. Hence the final truth of moral 
dualism. The greater good is not the mere outcropping of the 
deeper natural propensity, but can be attained only by the 
procrustean fitting of plastic materials to a mould defined by 
reason. Hence the profound truth of moral rigorism. Convinced 
as I am of the indefeasible, though partial, truth of dualism and 
rigorism, the contemptuous dismissal of Puritanism strikes me 
as atavistic or sophomoric rather than as evidence of philosophic 
emancipation. 

This same criterion of the universal happiness of individuals 
justifies the Christian doctrine of love, not merely as poetry, but 
as science. Judged by the same criterion, the ideal polity must be 
that in which the happiness of citizens is the end, and their en- 
lightened consent the seat, of sovereignty; or that form of society 
in which men rule themselves by discussion, persuasion, and 
agreement, for the sake of their common and maximum happi- 
ness. Hence democracy strikes me as Utopian only in the sense 
in which the best is always beyond the reach of present attainment; 
and the sceptics of democracy appear to me, not as shrewd politi- 
cal discoverers (for the failures of democracy are as old as human 
history), but as shallow opportunists, or victims of circumstance, 
or blind fanatics, or rhetorical adventurers, who are unconsciously 
retracing more primitive stages of political development. 



208 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

By this same principle, I judge some general concord among 
the nations of the earth to lie ahead on the upward path by which 
men have painfully ascended from the condition of beasts who 
prey upon their own kind. I can understand those who believe 
that such a concord lies upon a remote, or even an inaccessible, 
summit. I can understand its discouraged or even its despairing 
devotees. But in the cynical or gleeful enemies of international 
peace, in those who refuse even their homage to such a cause, I 
can see only a recrudescence of original sin. 

Finally, it is by the same principle that I find myself compelled 
to judge of religion. I would not belittle the comforts and com- 
pensations yielded by religion, but a true religion must be that 
which confirms man's humanity to man; or which, like Christ- 
ianity, conceives the object of worship as compassionate and 
beneficent. The Father who pities his children is the superlatively 
appropriate symbol of God, not because the worshipper, being 
one of the children, may hope to profit by paternal indulgence, 
but because all-reaching and infinitely patient love is the one 
thing supremely worshipful. Nietzsche's rejection of Christianity 
strikes me, therefore, as intelligently and absolutely false; while 
the little Nietzscheans assume in my eyes the role of bad boys 
who have happily found an adult to justify their incorrigible 
naughtiness. 

It is evident, then, that in practical matters I am old-fashioned 
that is to say, Christian and democratic in the historic senses of 
these terms. Much of what is now taken to be prophetic appears 
in my eyes as a tedious revival of old errors, not infrequently 
prompted by juvenile delinquency. Or, since Christianity and 
democracy were once revolutionary, and are still regarded with 
suspicion by the friends of tyranny and established privilege, I 
might describe myself as one who is revolutionary enough to 
remain loyal to the great revolutions of the past. 



RALPH BARTON PERRY 209 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

The Approach to Philosophy (Scribner's, 1905). 

The Moral Economy (Scribner's, 1908). 

"A Realistic Theory of Independence/ 1 in The New Realism (Mac- 

millan, 1912). 

Present Philosophical Tendencies (Longmans, 1912). 
The Present Conflict of Ideals (Longmans, 1918). 
The Free Man and the Soldier (Scribner's, 1916). 
Philosophy of the Recent Past (Scribner's, 1926^. 
General Theory of Value (Longmans, 1926). 



VOL. II O 



PERSONAL REALISM 



By JAMES BISSETT PRATT 

Born 1875; Professor of Philosophy, Williams College, 
WilHamstown, Mass. 



PERSONAL REALISM 

THE first call that I heard to the philosophic life in addition to 
my mother's influence came to me, I suppose, through the read- 
ing of Emerson, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. That was 
probably when I was about sixteen. I have read but little of 
Emerson since I was twenty; but during those four impression- 
able years he came to mean so much to me that as I look back 
over my life I think his was the greatest literary influence I have 
ever felt. 

The seed he had to sow fell on soil well prepared; for on my 
mother's side I come from a line of Scotch Protestants who were 
deeply interested in ultimate problems. My mother's father, 
Dr. David Murdoch, was a Presbyterian minister who left Scot- 
land to help evangelize Canada, and eventually was led, by his 
love of democracy, into the "States." My father, Daniel R. Pratt, 
though born in New York State, came from Connecticut Yankees 
on both sides, who traced back their line to the early days of 
Massachusetts Bay. I was born in Elmira, New York, on June 22, 
1875, and educated in the Elmira Schools, till I went to Williams 
College. It was in part through the influence of my beloved teacher, 
Professor John E. Russell, that the attractions of philosophy 
grew upon me, till I determined to give my life to it. 

A year of graduate study at Harvard (1898-99), with the very 
confusing experience of hearing James, Roycc, Palmer, Miinster- 
berg, Everett, and Santayana, each refuting in large part what 
the other taught made me temporarily satiated with philosophy, 
and in deference to my father's wish that I should give up philo- 
sophy for law, I left Harvard and spent a year at Columbia Law 
School. The old call of philosophy, however, still sounded in my 
ears, and after one year at Columbia and two years of teaching 
Latin in the Elmira Free Academy, I returned to my first love, 
and went to Berlin (in 1902-3) for further study. I must confess 
to having been rather disappointed with what I found. Paulsen 
and Pfleiderer were indeed inspiring teachers, but on the whole 
I found the courses at Berlin much more elementary and much 
less thorough than those at Harvard. Therefore, after some 



214 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

months of travel in Europe and the Near East, I returned to 
America and in the autumn of 1903 went back to Harvard, where 
I remained two years, receiving my doctor's degree in June 1905. 

The philosophical influences I felt at Harvard centred around 
two foci, the one James's realistic pluralism, the other the ideal- 
istic monism of Royce and Palmer. James's influence was at first 
supreme, and his concrete manner of thinking, his empirical 
point of view, have been, I suppose, more potent than anything 
else in the development of my intellectual life. Royce's influence 
was at first much less strong upon me. But when in my last year 
at Harvard, James was no longer giving courses, and Royce was 
reinforced by Palmer (in the Seminary on Kant and Hegel), the 
lure of idealism began to grow. 

My doctor's thesis at Harvard was not in the field of philosophy 
in the narrower sense, but in that of the psychology of religion. 
In writing it I took Professor James as my chief guide. The general 
subject of the religious consciousness occupied most of my atten- 
tion, not only during my last year at Harvard, but for a number 
of years after coming to Williams College as instructor (in 1905). 
My first book (The Psychology of Religious Belief) was on this 
subject, as was also the book to which I gave more years of work 
than to any other I have yet written, the Religious Consciousness 
(1920). All sorts of influences shared in making this work 
possible the continued influence of James's thought, much 
reading and considerable study of religious conditions in Europe 
and India, and the helpful insight of my wife. I should add that 
though my work in this field led me rather aside from the main 
stream of philosophic thought, it was not without its influence on 
my more fundamental philosophy : for it steadily strengthened my 
confidence as apparently a similar study strengthened James's 
in the ultimate significance of the religious consciousness. 

The growth of my epistemological and metaphysical views, 
during these early years at Williams, tended for a while away 
from James. I had never been able to go all the way with his 
Pragmatism, and the anti-intellectualism which under his leader- 
ship and that of Dewey and Schiller carried so large a part of the 
philosophical world with it in the first decade of this century 



JAMES BISSETT PRATT 215 

seemed to me perilous for the life of the mind. Hence my little 
book What is Pragmatism? (1909), in which I attacked my beloved 
master with as much violence as my affection would permit an 
attack which he received in the large and understanding way 
which so characterized William James. But it was not only nega- 
tively that I was tending away from the position of James. For 
several years I made an earnest attempt, in my thought and in 
my teaching, to mould my philosophy on the model of Royce or 
Hegel, and I may at least say that I made an honest and prolonged 
attempt to be an idealist. 

I did not succeed. The epistemological arguments of idealism 
had never been really convincing to me, and the conceptual 
methods of the Hegelians never had for me (I knew it in the bottom 
of my heart) the ring of reality. The lessons of William James 
had been learned too well. I cannot say that I ceased being an 
idealist, for I never really had been one; I ceased trying to be 
one. I admitted frankly that while probably neither side of the 
controversy could fully prove its point, the realistic version of 
the epistemological situation seemed to me immensely more 
probable than the idealistic. Neither of the attempts, however, 
to resuscitate realism, which were being made at the time on the 
two sides of the Atlantic the English New Realism and the 
American Neo-Realism appealed to me : and my earnest search 
was for a realistic view which would neither commit itself to the 
impossible positions (as they seemed to me) of the new schools, 
nor yet return merely to the Lockean form. 

It was at this rather critical moment in my thinking that the 
American Philosophical Association determined to devote a 
large part of its 1916 meeting to a discussion of the physical and 
the psychical: and, fortunately for me, I was asked to act as one 
of the leaders of the discussion. Each of the leaders was requested 
to publish a paper before the meeting, expressing his position 
on the topic to be discussed, and in conformity with this request 
I wrote "The Confessions of an Old Realist/' which appeared in 
the Journal of Philosophy for December 7, 1916. My paper at the 
meeting of the Association was entitled "A Defence of Dualistic 
Realism'' (published in the Journal of Philosophy, May 10, 1917). 



216 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

The discussion at the 1916 meeting was in some ways disappoint- 
ing; but for a few of us it did one important thing. There were 
four or five of us at the meeting whose thoughts had been develop- 
ing along parallel lines, and there we discovered each other. Thus 
was formed a little group which met once or twice a year for several 
years, and which through these meetings and a rather lively corre- 
spondence at length formulated the epistemological point of view 
known (rather inappropriately, I think) as Critical Realism. The 
conclusions we finally reached in this attempt at cooperative 
thinking were published toward the close of 1920 under the title 
Essays in Critical Realism. 

The reasons which led me to this realistic position have been 
stated at length in more places than one and can hardly be 
repeated here. Very briefly I will say that I find it impossible to 
construe my experience satisfactorily without recognizing the 
fact of transcendence. In the act of perceiving and conceiving 
the mind means more than it is: it refers to, intends, makes 
assertions about, other realities than its own states. The assertion 
of Locke that "the mind hath no other immediate object save its 
own ideas" not only is false, it is the root of many hopeless 
vagaries in both epistemology and ethics. For one who denies this 
power of transcendence on the part of the mind, the only logical 
position would seem to be the extreme form of solipsism, or else 
the denial of the subjective altogether. But if one is unwilling to 
take either of these extreme courses, it would seem difficult to 
avoid the assertion that the object which the mind refers to need 
not be existentially identical with any of its mental states. This 
last assertion, rather than the "essence" doctrine, I regard as 
the central thesis of Critical Realism. But it must not be forgotten 
that this assertion involves the principle of transcendence. And 
transcendence is a principle of wider import and application than 
Critical Realism. For me, at any rate, it is as fundamental to 
ethics as to epistemology: and once recognized there it under- 
mines the whole psychological argument for egoistic hedonism. 

Critical Realism was intended and is maintained as a purely 
epistemological doctrine. It would be strange, however, if it had 
no bearing on the problems of ontology. There is, to be sure, little 



JAMES BISSETT PRATT 217 

agreement among critical realists as to what this bearing may be. 
Several of the members of the group that wrote the "Essays" 
have developed out of their epistemological realism a naturalistic 
metaphysic. As I view the question, the logic of the thing runs 
quite the other way. The concept of a mind that can and does 
transcend itself which is the very centre of Critical Realism 
would seem to me to imply a uniqueness on the part of mind such 
as to separate it rather sharply from the physical world and from 
mechanistic nature. This view of the mind I have to some extent 
developed in the little book, flatter and Spirit, published in 1922, 
in which I tried to show that the relation of body and mind is a 
question that cannot be dodged, and that among the solutions 
offered since the rise of Western thought, interaction is by far the 
most satisfactory. Now if this be true, if the mind can both tran- 
scend in its meanings its own states and can also affect the activi- 
ties of the body, we would seem to be faced with the fact of a 
dualism of process in our world, the one mechanistic, the other 
Ideological; the one the processes of unconscious "matter," the 
other the activities of selves. And I may add that the direction of 
my thought during the six years since the completion of Matter 
and Spirit has been ever more confidently toward some form 
of personalism. I cannot (as yet, at any rate) go the whole length 
of the " person alist" school and interpret Reality as a whole or 
in all its parts in personal or panpsychic terms; but I do feel that 
the reality and efficiency of our own human selves is one of the 
hard facts which philosophy is bound to reckon with. The acknow- 
ledgment of this fact, moreover, would seem to be of grave 
significance. If there are selves, if in knowing and willing they 
can and do transcend their own psychic states, if they can act 
upon their bodies and through their bodies in such fashion as to 
change the outcome of the mechanistic laws of ''Nature," then 
this is a fact which characterizes not only the selves in question 
but the universe in which they live. The world we live in is the 
kind of world which continually produces selves. 

One more influence that has contributed to the shaping of my 
metaphysical attitude must be mentioned before I close these 
personal confessions the influence, namely, of Oriental thought. 



218 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

My interest in the history of religions, and especially the religions 
of India, was aroused during my first year at Harvard by Charles 
Carroll Everett, of blessed memory. This interest was deepened 
by the lectures of Otto Pfleiderer in the University of Berlin; 
and my own serious and detailed study of the non-Christian 
faiths was begun under the guidance of George Foot Moore. 
Ever since I came to Williams College in 1905 I have given a 
course on the history of religions and my interest in the subject, 
particularly in the religions of Indian origin, has steadily grown. 
In order to gain more immediate contact with and first-hand 
knowledge of these religions I spent the larger part of two sabbati- 
cal years in the East, particularly in the study of Hinduism and 
Buddhism, and my two longest books 1 have been devoted to them. 
They are to me matters of much more than antiquarian interest. 
During all the years that I have spent developing a pluralistic 
realism, the undertone of the Upanishads has, strangely enough, 
never been long out of hearing. The monistic idealism of the 
Vcdanta and the Mahayana has a kind of emotional and poetic 
charm for me in spite of my intellectual adhesion to a pluralistic 
and possibly dualistic philosophy. My long study of mysticism and 
the religious consciousness reinforces, I suspect, the influence of 
Oriental thought; and I cannot say with the assurance I should 
have felt some years ago that Hindu and Buddhist Monism are 
quite mistaken. Is my personal realism necessarily incompatible 
with the ancient insight of the East ? 

As yet I do not know. It may be that some day I shall have to 
resign one or both of them altogether. It may be I shall yet find 
some kind of synthesis that shall transmute and save them both. 
Most likely of all I shall never come to any definite conclusion, 
but shall continue to wonder to the end of my days. At any rate 
I trust I shall cling to reason and experience as my guides, and, 
with Socrates, shall "follow the argument." And if that course 
still leaves me wondering, I am not at all sure that this will be 
an evil fate. Long ago we were told that our human philosophy 
begins with wonder; and it may be best that it should end with 
it. As I view the matter, Philosophy is a persistent attempt to get 
1 India and Its Faiths, 1916; and The Pilgrimage of Buddhism, 1928. 



JAMES BISSETT PRATT 219 

at the most probable explanation of our experience, to draw the 
most persuasive and inclusive picture of the world we live in. 
Just for this reason it is an investigation that can never be com- 
plete, a question that can never be finally answered, a path that 
has no ending. It would be sad if the path ended with my last 
footprints. And for my own part, I have found the lure of the 
journey growing all the way. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

The Psychology of Religious Belief (1907), 

What is Pragmatism? (1909). 

India and Its Faiths (1915). 

The Religious Consciousness (1920). 

Matter and Spirit (1922). 

The Pilgrimage of Buddhism (1928). 



EMPIRICISM 



By ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 

Born 1868; late Professor of Philosophy, Yale University, 
New Haven, Conn 



EMPIRICISM 

IN accordance with what I understand to be the intention of the 
present volumes I shall make no effort here to argue at length 
the right or wrong of my philosophical opinions; and I submit 
without regret to the restriction. I have long been of the belief 
that the only possible hope that philosophers may get together 
lies in dropping their logic temporarily and telling one another 
frankly and in plain terms the human interests that engage them. 
An interest or point of view is much less easy to demolish than a 
piece of reasoning, and also it is more difficult to brush aside 
without leaving one open unpleasantly to the charge of narrow- 
ness ; and with the habit once started of considering sympatheti- 
cally the point of view of others there is a sporting chance that 
a man's own outlook on the world may be enlarged. 

My first interest in philosophy goes back to the fairly remote 
days when religion and science were still facing one another with 
considerable asperity. Though I could not remain entirely unaware 
of a measure of superior intellectual integrity and realism in the 
opposing camp, by temperament and training my natural 
leanings were toward the former side. The current disposition 
to turn naturalism into a final and comprehensive creed left me 
dissatisfied. The dogmatic forms of a naturalistic metaphysics 
did not impress me greatly; I thought then, and I still continue 
to think when I see the same predilection re-emerging in a more 
modern dress, that they are sufficiently exploded by relatively 
clear and simple considerations. But the more fluid agnosticism 
of scientists like Huxley worried and irritated me. I wanted to 
know, to find something solid and substantial into which I could 
get my teeth; and I saw no compelling reason to suppose that 
this natural desire was incapable of satisfaction. 

At the end of nearly forty years I have a good deal more 
fellow-feeling with the state of mind which faced by the riddle 
of existence is content to give it up. I have never quite under- 
stood how philosophers who have spent their lives in pointing 
out the absurdity of all metaphysics save their own could retain 
so placid a faith in the infallibility of one residual line of reason- 



224 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

ing; and while I usually seem to detect too easy a yielding to 
emotional or aesthetic prepossessions in those members of the 
younger generation who have abandoned the quest for ultimate 
truth before they have leally set upon it, I nevertheless have 
ceased to look as coldly as I once did on the periodic outbreaks 
against all forms of metaphysics. The very recent revelation 
of a widespread distrust of abstract speculation which accom- 
panied and partly accounted for the success of Mr. Durant's 
Story of Philosophy ought, I should say, to set the philosopher 
thinking, and lead him to ask himself anew what significance, 
if any, can fairly be established for his trade. And I do not know 
that I can better start my present undertaking than by putting 
this question to myself, and considering what I should have to 
say to one who urged that metaphysics is an unnecessary waste 
of human time and energy. 

There is one answer that has no need to give rise to serious 
controversy. Systems of philosophy have sometimes been justified 
as works of art, and I am in fact myself inclined to fancy that, 
as systems, this is their strongest claim. Since they are in large 
measure mutually exclusive, it is plainly impossible to regard 
them all as true. But whether he accepts it or not, a philosopher 
can still take pleasure in an historic system as a beautiful piece 
of methodic reasoning. Spinoza, for example, will always arouse 
in the mind that is capable of following him much the same 
sort of appreciation that another man will find in an epic or a 
symphony. It is true the number of those who derive enjoyment 
from this particular sort of thing will always be strictly limited; 
but that is no reason for disparagement. The aestheticist in 
particular, who nowadays is most in evidence as a reviler of 
metaphysics, has no possible ground for condescension except 
his own incapacity for grasping a complicated intellectual 
construction, any more than I should have the right to exclude 
from works of art a fugue of Bach's because it held no message 
for my untrained ear. 

As an answer to one sort of attack on metaphysics this admits, 
I should say, of no rebuttal; but of course it will not satisfy the 
real philosopher. I recall many years ago the appearance of a 



ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 225 

book made up entirely of mathematical formulas which so I 
was informed would to the expert prove highly diverting as a 
piece of mathematical humour. Such a display of ingenuity no 
one could reasonably object to as the by-product of a serious 
discipline, but it is not the kind of thing that would explain the 
zeal of the everyday mathematician. And philosophers could not 
long keep up an active interest if they thought of their labours 
only as an exercise of logical dexterity. The metaphysician must 
believe that he has a chance to reach objective truth if he is to take 
any permanent satisfaction in his work. 

There is one such value in terms of truth which the unsym- 
pathetic critic almost always overlooks, but which may go a long 
way toward reassuring the philosopher when beset by disturbing 
doubts. Whatever else he may or may not be accomplishing, he 
can console himself with the conviction that it must be worth 
some pains to clear up the logical meaning of the terms and 
ideas which constitute the stock-in-trade of humankind, but 
which the average man makes use of with little or no critical 
understanding. To the philosopher must go a very large portion 
of the credit for rendering precise the terms of intellectual 
discourse and bringing them into something like an intelligible 
connection; apart from that subtle and technical tracing of the 
links of logical relationship which so irritates the unfriendly 
critic, the mind of man would be ruled even more universally 
than it is by a mass of desultory catchwords. Here lies, I think, 
a sufficient and perhaps the only answer to the perennial charge 
that historic philosophy is no more than a rabble of conflicting 
schools each trying to displace the rest and none actually suc- 
ceeding. In so far as philosophy is identified with systems of 
philosophy, this charge is hard to meet, and there seems no special 
reason to suppose that the addition of more systems will materially 
change the fact. But every such attempt is likely to contribute 
something to a clearer understanding of this or that idea in which 
the author of the system feels a special interest; and other 
philosophers may profit by this even though its larger context is 
rejected. 

Is it possible to go a step farther and to justify metaphysics 

VOL. II P 



226 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

not merely as a clearing up of the intellectual tools of thought 
but as an effort to understand what Being actually is like ? Here 
more controversial questions will arise; and in taking note of 
them I come back to my proper theme. 

Of course in a sense the alternatives just alluded to are not 
exclusive. We cannot separate an analysis of terms from a 
knowledge of reality unless we are prepared to say that the 
relationships which enter into terms stand themselves for nothing 
real; and while philosophers have held out for this at times, it 
is not the most natural conclusion. It is simpler and easier to 
suppose that any verifiable thread of connection which the mind 
perceives reveals in so far a character belonging to the real 
structure of the world. But a strictly metaphysical curiosity 
assumes something in addition; and this brings me to the first 
of the dogmas that have had most influence in shaping my own 
attempts at speculation. 

The terms empiricism and rationalism, so far as I know, have 
never received an authoritative definition, and consequently I 
shall ask the privilege of giving them the sense that seems to me 
most useful. By a rationalist I shall mean a philosopher who 
believes not only that logic is a valid process but that the con- 
tent of logic, the relational network which mind traces, is itself 
conterminous with reality or being. The more rigorous of the 
metaphysical systems have commonly gone on this assumption, 
tacit or expressed, and it is this alone that renders plausible their 
persuasion that the intellect is competent to reach an authorita- 
tive account of things impervious to logical attack. Hegel is the 
most thoroughgoing and consistent master of the method, for 
Hegel alone has tried explicitly to do what on such a showing 
plainly should be done bring every human concept into a single 
articulated whole. 

That no one has succeeded up to date in propounding such a 
system of metaphysics capable of more than a limited appeal 
might, I suppose, be taken to mean that the philosopher is to 
look for some new system in the future which will be more 
fortunate. I prefer instead to think that the cause of failure lies 
not in any inadequacy of performance but in the method itself. 



ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 227 

And the thing which so disposes me is not merely the historic 
strife of systems, though I should say this ought to arouse a 
healthy scepticism, but the conviction that there is something 
of which the method does not take account. And accordingly 
the distinctive note of empiricism I discover in the recognition 
that reality possesses a dimension which logical relationships fail 
to make intelligible. Call it stuff or matter or sensation or what 
not, something is there which is not reducible to conceptual 
thought; and since deductive certainty has no meaning save in 
terms of concepts, it follows that any attempt at strict demonstra- 
tion, whether in the name of idealism or of science, must as 
applied to the universe at large be marked for failure. There is a 
factor in experience which we simply find, and whose necessity 
no conceivable logic can show. 

But in calling myself an empiricist I am compelled immediately 
to supplement my meaning. Traditional English empiricism 
never appealed to me as highly plausible, for the reason that it is 
not empirical enough. A technical criticism which nowadays is 
generally allowed is that the non-conceptual stuff of historic 
empiricism is thought of in an altogether too disjointed way, 
which fails sufficiently to recognize that relationships are also 
real. In this criticism I acquiesce, provided it does not try to say 
that reality consists of sensations and relations. If when we set 
out to scrutinize the objects of experience we are led to note two 
distinguishable elements, well and good. But to take such com- 
ponents as more real than the concrete facts from which they 
were dissected is equally non-empirical and abstract whether 
the outcome is in terms of particular sense qualities or of rela- 
tional connections. A genuinely empirical view will get its data 
from the things that come home to us in first-hand experience, 
and any metaphysics which results in disrupting these and 
leaving them without final significance, whatever its claim as 
metaphysics, at any rate is not empiricism. 

What then are the data that common experience presupposes ? 
I do not see much chance of dispute about the general facts. 
Most unmistakable and closest to man's most deeply rooted 
instincts is the assurance that we are persons in a community 



228 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

of persons, actuated by a variety of concrete motives to conduct 
in which these beings similar to ourselves are very much con- 
cerned. In the second place, there exists as a field of action common 
to us all alike a world on which the satisfaction of our interests 
is dependent, and which as human beings we can "know" only 
through the medium of ideas that are not identical with the 
objects to be known. About this world science has in detail many 
astonishing things to tell us, and many interesting and curious 
opinions have been held about its intrinsic nature; but in any 
case it is a thoroughly real and substantial sort of world, whicli 
to all appearance would not be very much put out were the 
human race to vanish altogether. It is this second item among 
the prejudices to which I have confessed about which I should 
perhaps feel most apologetic. Systems of metaphysics have 
pretty generally hesitated to concede it to the common sense of 
mankind, and I have always in consequence found myself ex- 
cluded from that comforting sense of philosophical security that 
comes from membership in an established and reputable school 
of thought. It may, of course, be that some way exists of escaping 
this taint of dualism, but I have never found it; and the rather 
common practice of escape through closing one's eyes to the 
break involved alike with our everyday and with our scientific 
ways of thinking does not attract me. 

Of the two main sets of problems that emerge from such a 
starting-point it was the more strictly metaphysical one that first 
engaged my interest ; what is the nature of Reality par excellence ? 
It seemed rather obvious to me, as I have said, that here was a 
question to which logic was not fully adequate. Since the field of 
reality pushes far beyond man with his limited capacities, there is 
an excellent chance that his guesses here may go astray ; this leaves 
agnosticism always open as a last resort, which is no doubt the 
reason why I was disposed to be scandalized by the agnostic. 
But I nevertheless thought, nor do I see in the abstract any 
reason now to change my mind, that a more or less convincing 
theory might conceivably be devised to meet the needs of 
speculation once the pretence to demonstrative certainty was 
abandoned. 



ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 229 

There were two reasons in particular which led me to look for 
such a theory in the general direction of what traditionally has 
been known as theism, and the first of these, at any rate, has no 
necessary connection with religiosity. It very early struck me 
that the condescension displayed by philosophy toward theism 
was due quite as much to a sentimental prejudice as to any in- 
herent plausibility. It is not surprising that the temper of the 
theologian should provoke a reaction in the critical mind which 
leads it to turn away from notions that have a religious connota- 
tion as unworthy our intellectual respect. But I do not see that 
an anti-theological bias has any more right than a theological 
bias to determine the results of speculation; and the dislike of 
philosophers for theism appeared to me a little arbitrary. Mind, 
thought, consciousness if these are not the most important 
things in the world, they are at any rate not the least intelligible ; 
and such terms are all abstractions apart from our mind, our 
thought, our consciousness. The one reality which for the business 
of living is least open to sceptical distrust is the reality of our- 
selves; and if knowledge can only proceed by interpreting the 
problematical in terms of what is known, then the prevalent 
disposition to hold cheap the notion of personality for specu- 
lative purposes might readily be taken as a sign less of superior 
insight than of that innate preference for the abstract over the 
concrete which has always put empiricism on the defensive in 
the metaphysical game. 

I must remark again that in my own case I was pointed 
toward theism less from motives that could properly be called 
religious than from such logical considerations, and from the 
lack of persuasive quality in competing brands of metaphysics. 
In all of these I was impressed by difficulties even more serious 
than those I found in theism. At the same time it is possible I 
might have been less firm in my preference for gnosticism had 
it not been for a second motive. 

Along with the philosopher's predilection for the abstract, a 
further reason has existed for the disrepute of concepts connected 
with religion in the higher intellectual circles. This is the increas- 
ing leaven of utilitarianism in modern society, and the displace- 



230 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

ment of ideology and an interest in values by the gospel of material 
progress and success. Such a tendency has acquired a lustre not 
obviously due in its own right from an alliance with the most 
important intellectual movement of the day. Not that the 
scientist is himself a practitioner of the gospel of success; he 
is more apt to be an idealist of sorts. But whatever the spirit that 
guides his own activities, his subject-matter is expressly in terms 
of means or instruments rather than of ideals and ends, and his 
enormous prestige has lent utilitarianism and pragmatism of the 
practical variety a standing which offers some excuse for the 
impression that science and religion are opposed. 

Now if, as I suppose to be the case, the central note of religion 
is the need man has of finding the human values that particularly 
appeal to him rooted in the more ultimate structure of the uni- 
verse, a new compulsion will be added to that desire to know 
which animates the metaphysician; and in this new motive I 
seemed to find a reinforcement of the special type of doctrine 
to which independently I had been led. For I have never been 
able to make the least sense of value terms except as they connect 
themselves with persons. I do not propose to enter here on an 
analysis of value. But for my own thought a value in the last 
resort invariably leads to some concrete feeling of approval such 
as persons alone experience, and apart from which nothing 
would be left but bare existence. And accordingly I found logic 
and motivation both pointing toward the notion of personality 
as the most likely key to an understanding of reality. 

As I have advanced in philosophical maturity if not in wisdom, 
has the key proved permanently useful? I hardly know how to 
make an unequivocal reply. Such reason as I own still tells me 
that on the whole it probably offers fewer difficulties in logic and 
in fact than any rival hypothesis I have met; and when I am 
rationally inclined I continue to find my arguments moderately 
convincing. But I confess that if I set aside ratiocination, as the 
best of philosophers at times must do, and lay myself open to 
spontaneous impressions from the encircling world, questionings 
arise that make them seem rather puny weapons. The sort of fact 
that casts the deepest shade of suspicion I pass by for the moment ; 



ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 231 

but just the immensity of things, the pressure of the everlasting 
and the infinite, is enough in man's humbler moods to give him 
cause to ask himself whether it may not be presumption rather 
than sound reason that leads him to think he has the slightest 
chance of measuring the interminable reaches of existence. 
Personally I get no kick out of sheer mystery and unintelligibility. 
The aesthetic cult of pure wonder as a substitute for religion is 
not for me ; unless I could retain a modicum of faith that some- 
thing in the nature of human meaning lies behind the veil of the 
unknown, I should feel I was making myself ridiculous by bowing 
clown before mere weight and mass of being. But I am less ready 
to deny that faith may have to stand alone without logical 
crutches; and I find some consolation in the thought that perhaps 
this is not without its gain. Rationalization passes over too readily 
into talk, and religion that has grown vocal tends nearly always 
to be cheapened; possibly it would stand a better chance if philo- 
sophers and theologians and preachers would let it more alone. 
At any rate, the impulse to plot out the universe is not as strong 
as it used to be, and more and more my major interest has shifted. 
Whether or not man's thought is robust enough to understand 
his cosmic dwelling-place, at least he can hope to know something 
about himself and his own experience; ethics and sociology I 
use the latter term apologetically still leave a field in which 
philosophy will have scope for some time to come. In point of 
fact, my empirical bias leads me to suspect that metaphysics 
here has usually succeeded in muddying the waters; man's life 
stands a considerable chance of being falsified if it is run into 
moulds created by the logic of a cosmic principle. I may pause 
a moment to disclaim any particular sympathy with current 
positivisms which draw the inference that an interest in human 
life ought to supplant and lay at rest the urge to any more 
pretentious form of metaphysics. Man is plainly too small and 
the world too big to compress reality within the confines of 
"experience"; and if we are constrained to recognize that reality 
exists beyond the regions on which the searchlight of experience 
plays it is an affront to man's natural curiosity to forbid him to 
let his imagination loose on such remoter and aesthetically more 



232 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

exciting themes. It is not for me to tell my brother philosopher 
how he should apportion his time and effort, or to despise him 
because he does not voluntarily limit his interests to mine. But 
for the empiricist it will nevertheless be true that the only safe 
propaedeutic to any metaphysics is the unbiased consideration 
of what man himself is like; and the results will retain their 
value their cardinal value doubtless even in case he has to 
stop with man and his terrestrial affairs. 

This is not the place to do more than set down dogmatically 
the three or four general conclusions which have been borne in 
upon me as having the most significance, for a further metaphysics 
if such a thing be possible, but in any case for the actual business 
of man's life. First, man is a being who lives in time, or perhaps 
I should rather say whose experience is incurably and fundamen- 
tally a temporal one. In the next place, he is an individual, and 
whatever the ties that bind him to his fellow-man and these, of 
course, are numerous and exceedingly important he also has a 
life and nature of his own with which he is most intimately 
concerned. Society is logically subordinate, not primary, and 
any attempt to make individual man a mere item in some compre- 
hensive social programme or some abstract or concrete universal 
will have unhappy consequences alike for theory and practice. 
Again, the most distinctive part of man's nature is to be found in 
ideals and not in given facts. The things to which he extends a 
deliberate approval, and not the unthinking demands of his 
animal constitution, are what determine the ends belonging to 
his proper human status; and these approvals come home in 
terms of feeling rather than of sense or intellect. And it follows 
from this, lastly, that the essence of the ideal is not to be looked 
for in absolute principles or superhuman virtues, and least of 
all in those abstract catchwords through which convention or 
the self-interest of classes attempts to make men submissive to 
some form of pretended good which carries so little personal 
appeal that it has to be imposed from the outside. An ideal is 
simply an end still to be attained which one finds himself desiring, 
and which also he is able on reflection to view with admiration 
and esteem. And the only proper instrument consequently for 



ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 233 

securing the good or ideal life is man's individual intelligence a 
personal and experimental intelligence unawed by glittering 
phrases or by claims to expert moral authority, whether by the 
best minds or by custom and historical prestige. It is intelligence 
moved by a sole desire to know the fact, on the one hand the 
utilitarian means to the attainment of man's wishes, and on the 
other his genuine good in the Socratic sense, his veritable pre- 
ferences and approvals, to the intent that utility may not 
mislead him and cause him to substitute proximate and 
pedestrian goals for a permanent satisfaction. 

And now one final word about metaphysics and religion. My 
conviction still persists that any whole-hearted exercise of the 
practical intelligence in terms of an ideal must needs be backed 
for most men by a belief, or at least a hope, that the universe is 
friendly to man and ready to meet him half-way. Were the 
human race content with material goods, this need would disappear 
with the increasing conquest of nature by science and industry; 
and the predominant concern of institutional religion with such 
blessings has, rightly and naturally, led the modern world pro- 
gressively to lose interest in what there has been so much historic 
reason to think of as a mere device for insuring better crops, the 
dominance of one's own nation over others, and personal success 
in business or enjoyment. We know by the certain test of experi- 
ence that man has a reasonable chance of wresting a livelihood 
from nature without the need for supernatural assurances. But 
the subtler values are vastly more precarious ; and in proportion 
as one's intelligence is realistic is it likely that as he looks about 
him he will be tempted to doubt whether natural forces, and in 
particular the forces that lie in human nature itself, are not too 
strong for these incipient strivings after a more humane and 
lovelier career for man, unless we can be permitted to trust that 
something not ourselves is at work to supplement human efforts. 

But now this new and final doubt, I have to grant, is double- 
edged. My best instincts seem to need cosmic backing if I am to 
look forward with much hope to their eventual satisfaction; but 
have I any real ground for thinking that the need is in the way 
of being met? Or is not the more realistic inference this, that 



234 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

human ideals are sports that arise sporadically in the evolutionary 
process with no real relevance to its direction or final outcome ? 
I am afraid my early faith in the supremacy of man's finer tastes 
has not worn quite as well as I could wish. As I survey the human 
scene my eye is caught by so many things that offend my sense 
of fitness oil scandals and diplomatic lies and Massachusetts 
justice, the cowardice and stupidity of men in office and their 
influential backers, the hypocrisy and greed of business, the 
difficulty of stirring the mass of men to an assertion of their own 
clear rights and interests, to say nothing of any real generosity 
of spirit or sense of impartial fairness, the inability even of nobler 
minds to rise above moral obsessions and shibboleths, the deter- 
mination of nearly everyone to prevent his neighbours from 
embarking in their own way on the quest for life and happiness 
all this and much more counts heavily when I ask myself whether 
the ideal of a democratic community wherein each man is allowed, 
and encouraged, to seek his best good along lines of intelligent 
and noble living which satisfy the test of reflective approval is 
indeed an ideal which reality is prepared to gratify. 

If the scales do not rest even, and if I still retain some measure 
of faith in the fundamental soundness of the world in terms of 
human notions of the good, it is due chiefly to one last considera- 
tion for which I do not pretend to offer proof. My own attitude 
I find varying with my mood; but it is just the recognition of 
this fact that for my reflective consciousness inclines the balance. 
It is in the role of passive observer that evils overweigh me 
most, whereas the times when I am least uncertain that man 
may hope for a satisfying life in a world that is not unfriendly to 
him are the times when my instincts are in active eruption; and 
if I ask myself which mood carries with it the greater impression 
of reality I do not have to hesitate about the answer. I may 
on occasion be minded to discard ideals and resign myself to 
salvaging such personal benefits as come my way, among which 
a sardonic interest in the spectacle of human folly will perhaps 
not prove the least enduring. But I do not find it in my heart 
particularly to like or to admire such a temper. It is the man 
who, without shutting his eyes to unpleasant facts, still trusts 



ARTHUR KENYON ROGERS 285 

his instincts and goes ahead to make them count who calls forth 
my spontaneous applause. And to free this last attitude from 
the suggestion either of sentimental bravado or of unintelligence, 
I need to contemplate it, not as a forlorn hope inspired by the 
courage of despair, but as the outgrowth of a confidence that 
the goal it sees to be desirable the world is so framed as to put 
within our reach. This, as I say, is less a reasoned conclusion 
than an intuition. But it will have a certain rational grounding 
also in so far as experience makes plausible the claim that all 
our human assurances rest in the end on just such an ultimate 
and unreasoned prompting of human nature. And at least 
metaphysics has left me with the firm persuasion perhaps its 
most substantial service that whether or not my own favourite 
arguments are sound, there is no logical compulsion in rival 
speculations to force me to abandon them. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

A Brief Introduction to Modern Philosophy (1899). 

A Student's History of Philosophy (1901). 

The Religions Conception of the World (1907). 

"The Problem of Error" (in Essays in Critical Realism) (1920). 

English and American Philosophy since 1800 (1922). 

The Theory of Ethics (1922). 

What is Truth? (1923). 

Morals in Review (1927). 

"Instrumentalism and Ideals" (in Essays in Philosophy,) (1929). 



BRIEF HISTORY OF MY OPINIONS 



By GEORGE SANTAYANA 

Bora 1863; formerly Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University, 
Cambridge, Mass. 



BRIEF HISTORY OF MY OPINIONS 

How came a child born in Spain of Spanish parents to be educated 
in Boston and to write in the English language ? The case of my 
family was unusual. We were not emigrants; none of us ever 
changed his country, his class, or his religion. But special circum- 
stances had given us hereditary points of attachment in opposite 
quarters, moral and geographical; and now that we are almost 
extinct I mean those of us who had these mixed associations 
I may say that we proved remarkably staunch in our complex 
allegiances, combining them as well as logic allowed, without at 
heart ever disowning anything. My philosophy in particular may 
be regarded as a synthesis of these various traditions, or as an 
attempt to view them from a level from which their several 
deliverances may be justly understood. I do not assert that such 
was actually the origin of my system : in any case its truth would 
be another question. I propose simply to describe as best I can 
the influences under which I have lived, and leave it for the reader, 
if he cares, to consider how far my philosophy may be an expres- 
sion of them. 

In the first place, we must go much farther afield than Boston 
or Spain, into the tropics, almost to the antipodes. Both my 
father and my mother's father were officials in the Spanish civil 
service in the Philippine Islands. This was in the 1840'$ and 
1850*8, long before my birth; for my parents were not married 
until later in life, in Spain, when my mother was a widow. But 
the tradition of the many years which each of them separately 
had spent in the East was always alive in our household. Those 
had been, for both, their more romantic and prosperous days. My 
father had studied the country and the natives, and had written 
a little book about the Island of Mindanao; he had been three 
times round the world in the sailing-ships of the period, and had 
incidentally visited England and the United States, and been 
immensely impressed by the energy and order prevalent in those 
nations. His respect for material greatness was profound, yet not 
unmixed with a secret irony or even repulsion. He had a seasoned 
and incredulous mind, trained to see other sorts of excellence 



240 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

also: in his boyhood he had worked in the studio of a professional 
painter of the school of Goya, and had translated the tragedies of 
Seneca into Spanish verse. His transmarine experiences, therefore, 
did not rattle, as so often happens, in an empty head. The sea 
itself, in those days, was still vast and blue, and the lands beyond 
it full of lessons and wonders. From childhood I have lived in 
the imaginative presence of interminable ocean spaces, coconut 
islands, blameless Malays, and immense continents swarming 
with Chinamen, polished and industrious, obscene and philo- 
sophical. It was habitual with me to think of scenes and customs 
pleasanter than those about me. My own travels have never 
carried me far from the frontiers of Christendom or of respecta- 
bility, and chiefly back and forth across the North Atlantic 
thirty-eight fussy voyages; but in mind I have always seen these 
things on an ironical background enormously empty, or breaking 
out in spots, like Polynesia, into nests of innocent particoloured 
humanity. 

My mother's figure belonged to the same broad and somewhat 
exotic landscape; she had spent her youth in the same places; 
but the moral note resounding in her was somewhat different. 
Her father, Jose Borras, of Reus in Catalonia, had been a disciple 
of Rousseau, an enthusiast and a wanderer: he taught her to 
revere pure reason and republican virtue and to abhor the vices 
of a corrupt world. But her own temper was cool and stoical, 
rather than ardent, and her disdain of corruption had in it a 
touch of elegance. At Manila, during the time of her first marriage, 
she had been rather the grand lady, in a style half Creole, half 
early Victorian. Virtue, beside those tropical seas, might stoop 
to be indolent. She had given a silver dollar every morning to her 
native major-domo, with which to provide for the family and 
the twelve servants, and keep the change for his wages. Mean- 
time she bathed, arranged the flowers, received visits, and did 
embroidery. It had been a spacious life; and in our narrower 
circumstances in later years the sense of it never forsook her. 

Her first husband, an American merchant established in 
Manila, had been the sixth son of Nathaniel Russell Sturgis, of 
Boston (1779-1856). In Boston, accordingly, her three Sturgis 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 241 

children had numerous relations and a little property, and there 
she had promised their father to bring them up in case of his 
death. When this occurred, in 1857, she therefore established 
herself in Boston; and this fact, by a sort of pre-natal or pre- 
established destiny, was the cause of my connection with the 
Sturgis family, with Boston, and with America. 

It was in Madrid in 1862, where my mother had gone on a 
visit intended to be temporary, that my father and she were 
married. He had been an old friend of hers and of her first hus- 
band's, and was well aware of her settled plan to educate her 
children in America, and recognized the propriety of that arrange- 
ment. Various projects and combinations were mooted: but the 
matter eventually ended in a separation, friendly, if not altogether 
pleasant to either party. My mother returned with her Sturgis 
children to live in the United States and my father and I remained 
in Spain. Soon, however, this compromise proved unsatisfactory. 
The education and prospects which my father, in his modest 
retirement, could offer me in Spain were far from brilliant; and 
in 1872 he decided to take me to Boston, where, after remaining 
for one cold winter, he left me in my mother's care and went back 
to Spain. 

I was then in my ninth year, having been born on December 
16, 1863, an< i I did not know one word of English. Nor was I 
likely to learn the language at home, where the family always 
continued to speak a Spanish more or less pure. But by a happy 
thought I was sent during my first winter in Boston to a Kinder- 
garten, among much younger children, where there were no books, 
so that I picked up English by ear before knowing how it was 
written: a circumstance to which I probably owe speaking the 
language without a marked foreign accent. The Brimmer School, 
the Boston Latin School, and Harvard College then followed in 
order: but apart from the taste for English poetry which I first 
imbibed from our excellent English master, Mr. Byron Groce, 
the most decisive influences over my mind in boyhood continued 
to come from my family, where, with my grown-up brother and 
sisters, I was the only child. I played no games, but sat at home 
all the afternoon and evening reading or drawing; especially 

VOL. II Q 



242 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

devouring anything I could find that regarded religion, architec- 
ture, or geography. 

In the summer of 1883, after my Freshman year, I returned for 

the first time to Spain to see my father. Then, and during many 

subsequent holidays which I spent in his company, we naturally 

discussed the various careers that might be open to me. We should 

both of us have liked the Spanish army or diplomatic service: 

but for the first I was already too old, and our means and our 

social relations hardly sufficed for the second. Moreover, by that 

time I felt like a foreigner in Spain, more acutely so than in 

America, although for more trivial reasons: my Yankee manners 

seemed outlandish there, and I could not do myself justice in 

the language. Nor was I inclined to overcome this handicap, as 

perhaps I might have done with a little effort : nothing in Spanish 

life or literature at that time particularly attracted me. English 

had become my only possible instrument, and I deliberately put 

away everything that might confuse me in that medium. English, 

and the whole Anglo-Saxon tradition in literature and philosophy, 

have always been a medium to me rather than a source. My natural 

affinities were elsewhere. Moreover, scholarship and learning of 

any sort seemed to me a means, not an end. I always hated to 

be a professor. Latin and Greek, French, Italian, and German, 

although I can read them, were languages which I never learned 

well. It seemed an accident to me if the matters which interested 

me came clothed in the rhetoric of one or another of these nations : 

I was not without a certain temperamental rhetoric of my own 

in which to recast what I adopted. Thus in renouncing every 

thing else for the sake of English letters I might be said to have 

been guilty, quite unintentionally, of a little stratagem, as if I had 

set out to say plausibly in English as many un-English things as 

possible. 

This brings me to religion, which is the head and front of every- 
thing. Like my parents, I have always set myself down officially 
as a Catholic: but this is a matter of sympathy and traditional 
allegiance, not of philosophy. In my adolescence, religion on its 
doctrinal and emotional side occupied me much more than it 
does now. I was more unhappy and unsettled; but I have never 



GEORGE SANTA YANA 243 

had any unquestioning faith in any dogma, and have never been 

what is called a practising Catholic. Indeed, it would hardly have 

been possible. My mother, like her father before her, was a Deist : 

she was sure there was a God, for who else could have made the 

world? But God was too great to take special thought for man: 

sacrifices, prayers, churches, and tales of immortality were 

invented by rascally priests in order to dominate the foolish. 

My father, except for the Deism, was emphatically of the same 

opinion. Thus, although I learned my prayers and catechism by 

rote, as was then inevitable in Spain, I knew that my parents 

regarded all religion as a work of human imagination: and I 

agreed, and still agree, with them there. But this carried an 

implication in their minds against which every instinct in me 

rebelled, namely that the works of human imagination are 

bad. No, said I to myself even as a boy: they are good, they 

alone are good; and the rest the whole real world is ashes 

in the mouth. My sympathies were entirely with those other 

members of my family who were devout believers. I loved the 

Christian epic, and all those doctrines and observances which 

bring it down into daily life : I thought how glorious it would have 

been to be a Dominican friar, preaching that epic eloquently, 

and solving afresh all the knottiest and sublimest mysteries of 

theology. I was delighted with anything, like Mallock's Is Life 

Worth Living?, which seemed to rebuke the fatuity of that age. 

For my own part, I was quite sure that life was not worth living; 

for if religion was false everything was worthless, and almost 

everything, if religion was true. In this youthful pessimism I was 

hardly more foolish than so many amateur medievalists and 

religious aesthetes of my generation. I saw the same alternative 

between Catholicism and complete disillusion: but I was never 

afraid of disillusion, and I have chosen it. 

Since those early years my feelings on this subject have become 
less strident. Does not modern philosophy teach that our idea 
of the so-called real world is also a work of imagination? A 
religion for there are other religions than the Christian simply 
offers a system of faith different from the vulgar one, or extending 
beyond it. The question is which imaginative system you will 



244 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

trust. My matured conclusion has been that no system is to be 
trusted, not even that of science in any literal or pictorial sense; 
but all systems may be used and, up to a certain point, trusted 
as symbols. Science expresses in human terms our dynamic 
relation to surrounding reality. Philosophies and religions, where 
they do not misrepresent these same dynamic relations and do 
not contradict science, express destiny in moral dimensions, in 
obviously mythical and poetical images: but how else should 
these moral truths be expressed at all in a traditional or popular 
fashion? Religions are the great fairy-tales of the conscience. 

When I began the formal study of philosophy as an under- 
graduate at Harvard, I was already alive to the fundamental 
questions, and even had a certain dialectical nimbleness, due to 
familiarity with the fine points of theology: the arguments for 
and against free will and the proofs of the existence of God were 
warm and clear in my mind. I accordingly heard James and Royce 
with more wonder than serious agreement: my scholastic logic 
would have wished to reduce James at once to a materialist and 
Royce to a solipsist, and it seemed strangely irrational in them 
to resist such simplification. I had heard many Unitarian sermons 
(being taken to hear them lest I should become too Catholic), 
and had been interested in them so far as they were rationalistic 
and informative, or even amusingly irreligious, as I often thought 
them to be: but neither in those discourses nor in Harvard 
philosophy was it easy for me to understand the Protestant 
combination of earnestness with waywardness. I was used to 
see water flowing from fountains, architectural and above ground: 
it puzzled me to see it drawn painfully in bucketfuls from the 
subjective well, muddied, and half spilt over. 

There was one lesson, however, which I was readier to learn, 
not only at Harvard from Professor Palmer and afterwards at 
Berlin from Paulsen, but from the general temper of that age 
well represented for me by the Revue Des Deux Mondes (which 
I habitually read from cover to cover) and by the works of Taine 
and of Matthew Arnold I refer to the historical spirit of the 
nineteenth century, and to that splendid panorama of nations 
and religions, literatures and arts, which it unrolled before the 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 245 

imagination. These picturesque vistas into the past came to fill in 
circumstantially that geographical and moral vastness to which 
my imagination was already accustomed. Professor Palmer was 
especially skilful in bending the mind to a suave and sympathetic 
participation in the views of all philosophers in turn: were they 
not all great men, and must not the aspects of things which 
seemed persuasive to them be really persuasive? Yet even this 
form of romanticism, amiable as it is, could not altogether put 
to sleep my scholastic dogmatism. The historian of philosophy 
may be as sympathetic and as self-effacing as he likes: the philo- 
sopher in him must still ask whether any of those successive 
views were true, or whether the later ones were necessarily truer 
than the earlier: he cannot, unless he is a shameless sophist, rest 
content with a truth pro tern. In reality the sympathetic recon- 
struction of history is a literary art, and it depends for its plausi- 
bility as well as for its materials on a conventional belief in the 
natural world. Without this belief no history and no science 
would be anything but a poetic fiction, like a classification of the 
angelic choirs. The necessity of naturalism as a foundation for 
all further serious opinions was clear to me from the beginning. 
Naturalism might indeed be criticized and I was myself intel- 
lectually and emotionally predisposed to criticize it, and to 
oscillate between supernaturalism and solipsism but if natural- 
ism was condemned, supernaturalism itself could have no point 
of application in the world of fact; and the whole edifice of human 
knowledge would crumble, since no perception would then be a 
report and no judgment would have a transcendent object. Hence 
historical reconstruction seemed to me more honestly and solidly 
practised by Taine, who was a professed naturalist, than by Hegel 
and his school, whose naturalism, though presupposed at every 
stage, was disguised and distorted by a dialectic imposed on it by 
the historian and useful at best only in simplifying his dramatic 
perspectives and lending them a false absoluteness and moralistic 
veneer. 

The influence of Royce over me, though less important in the 
end than that of James, was at first much more active. Royce 
was the better dialectician, and traversed subjects in which I 



246 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

was naturally more interested. The point that particularly 
exercised me was Royce's Theodicy or justification for the exist- 
ence of evil. It would be hard to exaggerate the ire which his argu- 
ments on this subject aroused in my youthful breast. Why that 
emotion ? Romantic sentiment that could find happiness only in 
tears and virtue only in heroic agonies was something familiar to 
me and not unsympathetic: a poetic play of mine, called Lucifer, 
conceived in those days, is a clear proof of it. I knew Leopardi and 
Musset largely by heart; Schopenhauer was soon to become, for 
a brief period, one of my favourite authors. I carried Lucretius 
in my pocket: and although the spirit of the poet in that case was 
not romantic, the picture of human existence which he drew 
glorified the same vanity. Spinoza, too, whom I was reading under 
Royce himself, filled me with joy and enthusiasm: I gathered at 
once from him a doctrine which has remained axiomatic with 
me ever since, namely that good and evil are relative to the 
natures of animals, irreversible in that relation, but indifferent 
to the march of cosmic events, since the force of the universe 
infinitely exceeds the force of any one of its parts. Had I found, 
then, in Royce only a romantic view of life, or only pessimism, 
or only stoical courage and pantheistic piety, I should have taken 
no offence, but readily recognized the poetic truth or the moral 
legitimacy of those positions. Conformity with fate, as I after- 
wards came to see, belongs to post-rational morality, which is 
a normal though optional development of human sentiment: 
Spinoza's "intellectual love of God" was a shining instance 
of it. 

But in Royce these attitudes, in themselves so honest and noble, 
seemed to be somehow embroiled and rendered sophistical: nor 
was he alone in this, for the same moral equivocation seemed 
to pervade Hegel, Browning, and Nietzsche. That which repelled 
me in all these men was the survival of a sort of forced optimism 
and pulpit unction, by which a cruel and nasty world, painted by 
them in the most lurid colours, was nevertheless set up as the 
model and standard of what ought to be. The duty of an honest 
moralist would have been rather to distinguish, in this bad or 
mixed reality, the part, however small, that could be loved and 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 247 

chosen from the remainder, however large, which was to be 
rejected and renounced. Certainly the universe was in flux and 
dynamically single: but this fatal flux could very well take care 
of itself; and it was not so fluid that no islands of a relative per- 
manence and beauty might not be formed in it. Ascetic con- 
formity was itself one of these islands: a scarcely inhabitable 
peak from which almost all human passions and activities were 
excluded. And the Greeks, whose deliberate ethics was rational, 
never denied the vague early Gods and the environing chaos, 
which perhaps would return in the end : but meantime they built 
their cities bravely on the hill-tops, as we all carry on pleasantly 
our temporal affairs, although we know that to-morrow we die. 
Life itself exists only by a modicum of organization, achieved 
and transmitted through a world of change: the momentum of 
such organization first creates a difference between good and 
evil, or gives them a meaning at all. Thus the core of life is always 
hereditary, steadfast, and classical; the margin of barbarism and 
blind adventure round it may be as wide as you will, and in some 
wild hearts the love of this fluid margin may be keen, as might 
be any other loose passion. But to preach barbarism as the only 
good, in ignorance or hatred of the possible perfection of every 
natural thing, was a scandal : a belated Calvinism that remained 
fanatical after ceasing to be Christian. And there was a further 
circumstance which made this attitude particularly odious to 
me. This romantic love of evil was not thoroughgoing: wilfulness 
and disorder were to reign only in spiritual matters; in govern- 
ment and industry, even in natural science, all was to be order 
and mechanical progress. Thus the absence of a positive religion 
and of a legislation, like that of the ancients, intended to be 
rational and final, was very far from liberating the spirit for higher 
flights: on the contrary, it opened the door to the pervasive 
tyranny of the world over the soul. And no wonder: a soul 
rebellious to its moral heritage is too weak to reach any firm 
definition of its inner life. It will feel lost and empty unless it 
summons the random labours of the contemporary world to fill 
and to enslave it. It must let mechanical and civic achievements 
reconcile it to its own moral confusion and triviality. 



248 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

It was in this state of mind that I went to Germany to continue 
the study of philosophy interested in all religious or metaphysical 
systems, but sceptical about them and scornful of any romantic 
worship or idealization of the real world. The life of a wandering 
student, like those of the Middle Ages, had an immense natural 
attraction for me so great, that I have never willingly led any 
other. When I had to choose a profession, the prospect of a quiet 
academic existence seemed the least of evils. I was fond of reading 
and observation, and I liked young men; but I have never been 
a diligent student either of science or art, nor at all ambitious to be 
learned. I have been willing to let cosmological problems and 
technical questions solve themselves as they would or as the 
authorities agreed for the moment that they should be solved. 
My pleasure was rather in expression, in reflection, in irony: my 
spirit was content to intervene, in whatever world it might seem 
to find itself, in order to disentangle the intimate moral and intel- 
lectual echoes audible to it in that world. My naturalism or 
materialism is no academic opinion: it is not a survival of the 
alleged materialism of the nineteenth century, when all the pro- 
fessors of philosophy were idealists: it is an everyday conviction 
which came to me, as it came to my father, from experience and 
observation of the world at large, and especially of my own feelings 
and passions. It seems to me that those who are not materialists 
cannot be good observers of themselves : they may hear themselves 
thinking, but they cannot have watched themselves acting and 
feeling; for feeling and action are evidently accidents of matter. 
If a Democritus or Lucretius or Spinoza or Darwin works within 
the lines of nature, and clarifies some part of that familiar object, 
that fact is the ground of my attachment to them: they have the 
savour of truth; but what the savour of truth is, I know very 
well without their help. Consequently there is no opposition in 
my mind between materialism and a Platonic or even Indian 
discipline of the spirit. The recognition of the material world and 
of the conditions of existence in it merely enlightens the spirit 
concerning the source of its troubles and the means to its happi- 
ness or deliverance: and it was happiness or deliverance, the 
supervening supreme expression of human will and imagination, 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 249 

that alone really concerned me. This alone was genuine philosophy : 
this alone was the life of reason. 

Had the life of reason ever been cultivated in the world by 
people with a sane imagination ? Yes, once, by the Greeks. Of the 
Greeks, however, I knew very little : the philosophical and politi- 
cal departments at Harvard had not yet discovered Plato and 
Aristotle. It was with the greater pleasure that I heard Paulsen 
in Berlin expounding Greek ethics with a sweet reasonableness 
altogether worthy of the subject: here at last was a vindication 
of order and beauty in the institutions of men and in their ideas. 
Here, through the pleasant medium of transparent myths or of 
summary scientific images, like the water of Thales, nature was 
essentially understood and honestly described; and here, for that 
very reason, the free mind could disentangle its true good, and 
could express it in art, in manners, and even in the most refined 
or the most austere spiritual discipline. Yet, although I knew 
henceforth that in the Greeks I should find the natural support 
and point of attachment for my own philosophy, I was not then 
collected or mature enough to pursue the matter; not until ten 
years later, in 1896-1897, did I take the opportunity of a year's 
leave of absence to go to England and begin a systematic reading 
of Plato and Aristotle under Dr. Henry Jackson of Trinity College, 
Cambridge. I am not conscious of any change of opinion super- 
vening, nor of any having occurred earlier; but by that study 
and change of scene my mind was greatly enriched ; and the com- 
position of The Life of Reason was the consequence. 

This book was intended to be a summary history of the human 
imagination, expressly distinguishing those phases of it which 
showed what Herbert Spencer called an adjustment of inner to 
outer relations; in other words, an adaptation of fancy and habit 
to material facts and opportunities. On the one hand, then, my 
subject being the imagination, I was never called on to step 
beyond the subjective sphere. I set out to describe, not nature or 
God, but the ideas of God or nature bred in the human mind. On 
the other hand, I was not concerned with these ideas for their own 
sake, as in a work of pure poetry or erudition, but I meant to 
consider them in their natural genesis and significance; for \ 



250 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

assumed throughout that the whole life of reason was generated 
and controlled by the animal life of man in the bosom of nature. 
Human ideas had, accordingly, a symptomatic, expressive, and 
symbolic value: they were the inner notes sounded by man's 
passions and by his arts : and they became rational partly by their 
vital and inward harmony for reason is a harmony of the passions 
and partly by their adjustment to external facts and possibilities 
for reason is a harmony of the inner life with truth and with 
fate. I was accordingly concerned to discover what wisdom is 
possible to an animal whose mind, from beginning to end, is 
poetical: and I found that this could not lie in discarding poetry 
in favour of a science supposed to be clairvoyant and literally 
true. Wisdom lay rather in taking everything good-humouredly, 
with a grain of salt. In science there was an element of poetry, 
pervasive, inevitable, and variable: it was strictly scientific and 
true only in so far as it involved a close and prosperous adjust- 
ment to the surrounding world, at first by its origin in observation 
and at last by its application in action. Science was the mental 
accompaniment of art. 

Here was a sort of pragmatism : the same which I have again 
expressed, I hope more clearly, in one of the Dialogues in Limbo 
entitled "Normal Madness/' The human mind is a faculty of 
dreaming awake, and its dreams are kept relevant to its environ- 
ment and to its fate only by the external control exercised over 
them by Punishment, when the accompanying conduct brings 
ruin, or by Agreement, when it brings prosperity. In the latter 
case it is possible to establish correspondences between one part 
of a dream and another, or between the dreams of separate minds, 
and so create the world of literature, or the life of reason. I am 
not sure whether this notion, that thought is a controlled and 
consistent madness, appears among the thirteen pragmatisms 
which have been distinguished, but I have reason to think that 
I came to it under the influence of William James ; nevertheless, 
when his book on Pragmatism appeared, about the same time 
as my Life of Reason, it gave me a rude shock. I could not 
stomach that way of speaking about truth; and the continual 
substitution of human psychology normal madness, in my view 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 251 

for the universe, in which man is but one distracted and 
befuddled animal, seemed to me a confused remnant of idealism, 
and not serious. 

The William James who had been my master was not this 
William James of the later years, whose pragmatism and pure 
empiricism and romantic metaphysics have made such a stir in 
the world. It was rather the puzzled but brilliant doctor, impatient 
of metaphysics, whom I had known in my undergraduate days, 
one of whose maxims was that to study the abnormal was the 
best way of understanding the normal; or it was the genial 
author of The Principles of Psychology, chapters of which he read 
from the manuscript and discussed with a small class of us in 
1889. Even then what I learned from him was perhaps chiefly 
things which explicitly he never taught, but which I imbibed 
from the spirit and background of his teaching. Chief of these, 
I should say, was a sense for the immediate : for the unadulterated, 
unexplained, instant fact of experience. Actual experience, for 
William James, however varied or rich its assault might be, was 
always and altogether of the nature of a sensation : it possessed a 
vital, leaping, globular unity which made the only fact, the flying 
fact, of our being. Whatever continuities of quality might be 
traced in it, its existence was always momentary and self-war- 
ranted. A man's life or soul borrowed its reality and imputed 
wholeness from the intrinsic actuality of its successive parts; 
existence was a perpetual re-birth, a travelling light to which 
the past was lost and the future uncertain. The element of 
indetermination which James felt so strongly in this flood of 
existence was precisely the pulse of fresh unpredictable sensation, 
summoning attention hither and thither to unexpected facts. 
Apprehension in him being impressionistic that was the age of 
impressionism in painting too and marvellously free from intel- 
lectual assumptions or presumptions, he felt intensely the fact of 
contingency, or the contingency of fact. This seemed to me not 
merely a peculiarity of temperament in him, but a profound 
insight into existence, in its inmost irrational essence. Existence, 
I learned to see, is intrinsically dispersed, seated in its distributed 
moments, and arbitrary not only as a whole, but in the character 



252 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

and place of each of its parts. Change the bits, and you change 
the mosaic : nor can we count or limit the elements, as in a little 
closed kaleidoscope, which may be shaken together into the 
next picture. Many of them, such as pleasure and pain, or the 
total picture itself, cannot possibly have pre-existed. 

But, said I to myself, were these novelties for that reason 
unconditioned? Was not sensation, by continually surprising us, 
a continual warning to us of fatal conjunctions occurring outside ? 
And would not the same conjunctions, but for memory and habit, 
always produce the same surprises ? Experience of indetermina- 
tion was no proof of indeterminism; and when James proceeded 
to turn immediate experience into ultimate physics, his thought 
seemed to me to lose itself in words or in confused superstitions. 
Free will, a deep moral power contrary to a romantic indeter- 
mination in being, he endeavoured to pack into the bias of 
attention the most temperamental of accidents. He insisted 
passionately on the efficacy of consciousness, and invoked 
Darwinian arguments for its utility arguments which assumed 
that consciousness was a material engine absorbing and trans- 
mitting energy: so that it was no wonder that presently he 
doubted whether consciousness existed at all. He suggested a new 
physics or metaphysics in which the essences given in immediate 
experience should be deployed and hypostatized into the con- 
stituents of nature: but this pictorial cosmology had the dis- 
advantage of abolishing the human imagination, with all the 
pathos and poetry of its animal status. James thus renounced 
that gift for literary psychology, that romantic insight, in which 
alone he excelled; and indeed his followers are without it. I pride 
myself on remaining a disciple of his earlier unsophisticated self, 
when he was an agnostic about the universe, but in his diagnosis 
of the heart an impulsive poet : a master in the art of recording 
or divining the lyric quality of experience as it actually came to 
him or to me. 

Lyric experience and literary psychology, as I have learned to 
conceive them, are chapters in the life of one race of animals, in 
one corner of the natural world. But before relegating them to 
that modest station (which takes nothing away from their 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 253 

spiritual prerogatives) I was compelled to face the terrible problem 
which arises when, as in modern philosophy, literary psychology 
and lyric experience are made the fulcrum or the stuff of the 
universe. Has this experience any external conditions ? If it has, 
are they knowable ? And if it has not, on what principle are its 
qualities generated or its episodes distributed? Nay, how can 
literary psychology or universal experience have any seat save the 
present fancy of the psychologist or the historian? Although 
James had been bothered and confused by these questions, and 
Royce had enthroned his philosophy upon them, neither of these 
my principal teachers seemed to have come to clearness on the 
subject : it was only afterwards, when I read Fichte and Schopen- 
hauer, that I began to see my way to a solution. We must oscil- 
late between a radical transcendentalism, frankly reduced to a 
solipsism of the living moment, and a materialism posited as a 
presupposition of conventional sanity. There was no contradiction 
in joining together a scepticism which was not a dogmatic 
negation of anything and an animal faith which avowedly was 
a mere assumption in action and description. Yet such oscillation, 
if it was to be justified and rendered coherent, still demanded 
some understanding of two further points : what, starting from 
immediate experience, was the causa cognoscendi of the natural 
world; and what, starting from the natural world, was the causa 
fiendi of immediate experience ? 

On this second point (in spite of the speculations of my friend 
Strong) I have not seen much new light. I am constrained merely 
to register as a brute fact the emergence of consciousness in 
animal bodies. A psyche, or nucleus of hereditary organization, 
gathers and governs these bodies, and at the same time breeds 
within them a dreaming, suffering, and watching mind. Such 
investigations as those of Fraser and of Freud have shown how 
rich and how mad a thing the mind is fundamentally, how per- 
vasively it plays about animal life, and how remote its first and 
deepest intuitions are from any understanding of their true 
occasions. An interesting and consistent complement to these 
discoveries is furnished by behaviourism, which I heartily accept 
on its positive biological side: the hereditary life of the body, 



254 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

modified by accident or training, forms a closed cycle of habits 
and actions. Of this the mind is a concomitant spiritual expres- 
sion, invisible, imponderable, and epiphenomenal, or, as I prefer 
to say, hypostatic : for in it the moving unities and tensions of 
animal life are synthesized on quite another plane of being, into 
actual intuitions and feelings. This spiritual fertility in living 
bodies is the most natural of things. It is unintelligible only as all 
existence, change, or genesis is unintelligible; but it might be 
better understood, that is, better assimilated to other natural 
miracles, if we understood better the life of matter everywhere, 
and that of its different aggregates. 

On the other point raised by my naturalism, namely on the 
grounds of faith in the natural world, I have reached more positive 
conclusions. Criticism, I think, must first be invited to do its 
worst : nothing is more dangerous here than timidity or conven- 
tion. A pure and radical transcendentalism will disclaim all 
knowledge of fact. Nature, history, the self become ghostly 
presences, mere notions of such things; and the being of these 
images becomes purely internal to them; they exist in no environ- 
ing space or time; they possess no substance or hidden parts, but 
are all surface, all appearance. Such a being, or quality of being, 
I call an essence; and to the consideration of essences, composing 
of themselves an eternal and infinite realm, I have lately devoted 
much attention. To that sphere I transpose the familiar pictures 
painted by the senses, or by traditional science and religion. 
Taken as essences, all ideas are compatible and supplementary to 
one another, like the various arts of expression; it is possible to 
perceive, up to a certain point, the symbolic burden of each of 
them, and to profit by the spiritual criticism of experience which 
it may embody. In particular, I recognize this spiritual truth in 
the Neo-Platonic and Indian systems, without admitting their 
fabulous side: after all, it is an old maxim with me that many 
ideas may be convergent as poetry which would be divergent as 
dogmas. This applies, in quite another quarter, to that revolution 
in physics which is now loudly announced, sometimes as the bank- 
ruptcy of science, sometimes as the breakdown of materialism. 
This revolution becomes, in my view, simply a change in notation. 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 255 

Matter may be called gravity or an electric charge or a tension in 
an ether; mathematics may readjust its equations to more 
accurate observations; any fresh description of nature which may 
result will still be a product of human wit, like the Ptolemaic and 
the Newtonian systems, and nothing but an intellectual symbol 
for man's contacts with matter, in so far as they have gone or as 
he has become distinctly sensitive to them. The real matter, 
within him and without, will meantime continue to rejoice in its 
ancient ways, or to adopt new ones, and incidentally to create 
these successive notions of it in his head. 

When all the data of immediate experience and all the con- 
structions of thought have thus been purified and reduced to 
what they are intrinsically, that is, to eternal essences, by a sort 
of counterblast the sense of existence, of action, of ambushed 
reality everywhere about us, becomes all the clearer and more 
imperious. This assurance of the not-given is involved in action, 
in expectation, in fear, hope, or want : I call it animal faith. The 
object of this faith is the substantial energetic thing encountered 
in action, whatever this thing may be in itself; by moving, devour- 
ing, or transforming this thing I assure myself of its existence; 
and at the same time my respect for it becomes enlightened and 
proportionate to its definite powers. But throughout, for the 
description of it in fancy, I have only the essences which my 
senses or thought may evoke in its presence; these are my inevit- 
able signs and names for that object. Thus the whole sensuous 
and intellectual furniture of the mind becomes a store whence 
I may fetch terms for the description of nature, and may compose 
the silly home-poetry in which I talk to myself about everything. 
All is a tale told, if not by an idiot, at least by a dreamer; but it 
is far from signifying nothing. Sensations are rapid dreams: 
perceptions are dreams sustained and developed at will; sciences 
are dreams abstracted, controlled, measured, and rendered 
scrupulously proportional to their occasions. Knowledge accord- 
ingly always remains a part of imagination in its terms and in its 
seat; yet by virtue of its origin and intent it becomes a memorial 
and a guide to the fortunes of man in nature. 

In the foregoing I have said nothing about my sentiments 



256 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

concerning aesthetics or the fine arts; yet I have devoted two 
volumes to those subjects, and I believe that to some people my 
whole philosophy seems to be little but rhetoric or prose poetry. 
I must frankly confess that I have written some verses; and at 
one time I had thoughts of becoming an architect or even a 
painter. The decorative and poetic aspects of art and nature have 
always fascinated me and held my attention above everything 
else. But in philosophy I recognize no separable thing called 
aesthetics; and what has gone by the name of the philosophy of 
art, like the so-called philosophy of history, seems to me sheer 
verbiage. There is in art nothing but manual knack and profes- 
sional tradition on the practical side, and on the contemplative 
side pure intuition of essence, with the inevitable intellectual or 
luxurious pleasure which pure intuition involves. I can draw no 
distinction save for academic programmes between moral and 
aesthetic values: beauty, being a good, is a moral good; and the 
practice and enjoyment of art, like all practice and all enjoyment, 
fall within the sphere of morals at least if by morals we under- 
stand moral economy and not moral superstition. On the other 
hand, the good, when actually realized and not merely pursued 
from afar, is a joy in the immediate; it is possessed with wonder 
and is in that sense aesthetic. Such pure joy when blind is called 
pleasure, when centred in some sensible image is called beauty, 
and when diffused over the thought of ulterior propitious things 
is called happiness, love, or religious rapture. But where all is 
manifest, as it is in intuition, classifications are pedantic. Harmony, 
which might be called an aesthetic principle, is also the principle 
of health, of justice, and of happiness. Every impulse, not the 
aesthetic mood alone, is innocent and irresponsible in its origin 
and precious in its own eyes; but every impulse or indulgence, 
including the aesthetic, is evil in its effect, when it renders harmony 
impossible in the general tenor of life, or produces in the soul 
division and ruin. There is no lack of folly in the arts; they are 
full of inertia and affectation and of what must seem ugliness to a 
cultivated taste; yet there is no need of bringing the catapult of 
criticism against it : indifference is enough. A society will breed 
the art which it is capable of, and which it deserves; but even in 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 257 

its own eyes this art will hardly be important or beautiful unless 
it engages deeply the resources of the soul. The arts may die of 
triviality, as they were born of enthusiasm. On the other hand, 
there will always be beauty, or a transport akin to the sense of 
beauty, in any high contemplative moment. And it is only in 
contemplative moments that life is truly vital, when routine 
gives place to intuition, and experience is synthesized and brought 
before the spirit in its sweep and truth. The intention of my phi- 
losophy has certainly been to attain, if possible, such wide intu- 
itions, and to celebrate the emotions with which they fill the mind. 
If this object be aesthetic and merely poetical, well and good: 
but it is a poetry or sestheticism which shines by disillusion and 
is simply intent on the unvarnished truth. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

The Sense of Beauty (1896). 

Interpretations of Poetry and Religion (1900). 

The Life of Reason, 5 vols. (1905-6). 

Three Philosophical Poets (1910). 

Winds of Doctrine (1913). 

Egotism in German Philosophy (1915). 

Character and Opinion in the United States (1920). 

Soliloquies in England (1921). 

Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923). 

Dialogues in Limbo (1925). 

Platonism and the Spiritual Life ^927). 

The Realm of Essence (1927). 



VOL. II 



REALISM, NATURALISM, AND HUMANISM 

By ROY WOOD SELLARS 

Born 1880; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 



REALISM, NATURALISM, AND HUMANISM 

I 

BIOGRAPHICAL 

I HAVE been given to understand that the essays included in this 
volume are supposed to present an exposition of the writer's 
philosophical creed if he has a definite one and, at the same 
time, to indicate some of the influences which have affected his 
thought. There is, I presume, no assumption that his thought is 
a mere effect of these influences, but rather the quite justified 
belief that it can be better understood in relation to them. 

Because it will be easiest to consider first the influences which 
I can note in my life I shall begin in this way and so preface the 
systematic part of my essay with some remarks upon the develop- 
ment of my thought. 

I was brought up in a small village in an almost pioneer com- 
munity in north-eastern Michigan. Actually I was born in Canada 
of typically mixed stock, in which I can trace Scot, English, 
Welsh, Irish, and German ingredients, the Scot predominating. 
My father, who was a physician, was a man whom I have always 
regarded as of exceptional natural ability. He had struggled 
for an education, becoming a country school teacher in Canada 
at an early age, in a period when schools were attended by 
pretty rough boys and girls often older than the teacher. 
His stories of his life undoubtedly influenced my attitude to 
many things. Forced to give up school work by bad health 
after he had made a success, he attended the University of 
Michigan while a small family, myself the youngest, was depen- 
dent upon him. Economic pressure then forced him to find a 
place where practice would quickly come, and the new country 
of the North was chosen. 

It was here that my formative years were spent, for I did not 
leave the little village until I was seventeen. Here my companions 
were farmers' boys, and my chief pleasure was reading what 
books I could lay my hands on and roaming through the woods. 
It was a simple life in its way, but one that would lead a sensitive 



262 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

and self-conscious boy to much introspection and meditation. 
Of philosophy I knew little as yet except the name, though I 
read Carlyle and Emerson assiduously. My father was almost a 
zealot in his insistence upon education, and I owe him much for 
his stimulation of my interest in history and science. His library 
was literally the only one in the whole neighbourhood, and 
consisted largely of the books dating from his days as a school- 
master. As I grew older, we used to talk together in his office 
about medicine. It is an interesting coincidence that I, who have 
stood in this country for naturalism, realism, and humanism in 
a rather aggressive fashion, should have been brought up in this 
atmosphere. I recall this small point of agreement with Aristotle 
with pride. 

I arrived at the University of Michigan at the age of nineteen, 
an undoubtedly queer freshman, with a large amount of self- 
education mingled with my schooling. In the sophomore year 
1 started my work in philosophy. Here I came under the influence 
of Wenley, Lloyd, and Rebec. While I afterwards struck out on 
a path of my own, which they never entirely approved, I can see 
how they gave me perspective and awakened me intellectually. 
It was my contact with a fuller and deeper culture. Another 
teacher who affected me in many ways was Craig, who was head 
of the Semitics department. I have always regretted that the 
mathematics department had no outstanding men at the time. 
There was no vision in it. I laboured on to calculus and then 
stopped. 

A year spent as Fellow at the University of Wisconsin brought 
me into contact with Sharp and Bode. This was in 1904. It was 
Sharp who called my attention to G. E. Moore's essay in Mind, 
entitled "A Refutation of Idealism/' I frequently talked entire 
evenings with Bode, who was just then swinging to pragmatism. 
Called to Michigan the next year as an instructor, I devoted 
myself to teaching and to securing my doctorate. With the 
exception of two periods spent abroad, chiefly in France and 
Germany, my life has been passed in the little city of Ann Arbor, 
in the usual academic fashion. 

A philosopher's thought is roughly distinguishable into his 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 263 

technical investigation and the larger background of reflection 
and experience which makes up his life. These, of course, interact, 
but they are not exactly identical. It is the larger play of reflec- 
tion and experience that constitutes the individual's intellectual 
and emotional adjustment to the world, his growing imaginative 
insight into the texture of reality. His technical analysis of 
traditional problems is an affair of detail, and it seems to me 
to proceed step by step with the growth of his outlook upon 
things. 

Now I can plainly see that my general outlook has been 
dominated by the set of my own personality, which is strongly 
self-conscious and individualistic. I note that I have always 
rejected any theory which did not do justice to the uniqueness 
of each centre of consciousness, to doctrines of fusion and 
mysticism. I mean by this that I always held to mental pluralism 
while recognizing that the individual is part of a larger world 
which plays upon him. Thus, while in sympathy with the general 
fight of pragmatism against absolute idealism, I could never 
accept the tendency of the Chicago School to a social con- 
sciousness. 

I began to work out my own view of things in connection 
with a course which I gave on the fundamental concepts of 
science. Here it was my method to start with natural realism 
and advance step by step to what I called scientific realism. 
Readers of my first book, Critical Realism, published in 1916, 
though sent to the publishing house in 1913, will recognize 
this method. I still regard it as the proper approach to theory 
of knowledge. 

Accompanying this interest in science was a revolt against 
traditional religion and an increasing interest in human beings 
and in social movements. I discarded supernaturalism com- 
pletely and decided that the heart of religion lay in the effort of 
man to safeguard what he conceived as valuable. Religion, I felt, 
was a reflection of man's strategy in the face of the world as he 
understood it. And this understanding varied. What, I asked 
myself, would happen to religion as the belief in supernatural 
agencies and controls gave way to naturalism. It seemed to me 



264 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

that religion would be transformed and become a philosophy of 
life dominated by a frank realization of man's place in nature 
and a keen sense for what was worth while in life. In the little 
book, The Next Step in Religion, I called this transformed religion 
humanism, a loyalty to human values. When I undertook to 
publish it, I was told by many that I was foolish, that such a 
frank suggestion of naturalism would get me into trouble, slow 
up my promotion, prevent my being called elsewhere. Perhaps 
it has had some of these effects, but there is compensation 
in freedom of self-expression. Besides, what was pioneer work 
ten years ago is almost commonplace already, so quickly does 
thought move in the United States. I do not think that foreigners 
sufficiently realize what opposing tendencies are at work here. 
Philosophy and psychology have been lifting themselves out of 
traditional perspectives more rapidly in America than elsewhere. 

In social matters my development was analogous. I saw an 
unawareness of social problems and maladjustments, a constant 
whipping-up of the acquisitive instincts. Of course, this was not 
all that I saw, for there are many admirable sides to American 
life. Any criticism I had to pass was, I felt, applicable to modern 
civilization as a whole. Had the industrial revolution and modern 
finance concentrated power and nourished false ideals? Could 
we have faith in the coming of automatic readjustments? Or 
was it time for social planning and criticism? Becoming ac- 
quainted with the literature of social reform, I inevitably came 
into contact with the world-wide socialist movement. I tried to 
see what was valuable and what was outworn in Marxianism. 
The result was my The Next Step in Democracy, which fell into 
line with much of the English writing on the subject. It stressed 
the value of social experimentation in co-operation, profit-sharing, 
limitation of inheritance, and increased participation of em- 
ployees. It is my desire to come back again to this field before 
long and do really systematic work in it. 

These general remarks in regard to my intellectual development 
show that I was a child of the twentieth century, forward-looking 
and not too much impressed by intellectual and social traditions. 
I believed that man was slowly gaining insight into himself, into 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 265 

the texture of society, and into the general structure of the 
universe. My thought has thus been intertwined with the dis- 
coveries, generalizations, and valuations of the period. And yet 
I was never a mere child of the present. The history of philosophy 
brought to me the life of distant cultures and other times. Thus 
my knowledge of Greek thought confirmed me in my humanism 
and naturalism. It seemed to me that, in its brief period of 
splendour and success, Greece was working toward the same 
blend of humanism and naturalism that I had in mind. In spite 
of my admiration for Plato, I could not but regard him as the 
gifted advocate of a vicious trend in Greek thought which pre- 
pared the way for dualism and mysticism. My sympathies were 
more with Aristotle's attempt to keep his feet on the ground. 

As I look back on my own development, I realize that a 
philosophy is not created in an isolated mind, but in one open to 
the currents of doctrine. I count myself peculiarly fortunate to 
have come to maturity in a period of reconstruction. What I 
brought was a very persistent mind with a keen sense for realities. 

I come now to my technical inheritance. My teachers stressed 
the historical approach to philosophy so characteristic of the 
idealist movement of the latter part of the nineteenth century. 
This was valuable, but could easily be overdone. There was need 
of analysis as well and of a clear formulation of actual problems. 
From the very first I focussed my attention upon the mind-body 
problem as crucial, and quickly saw that it could not be solved 
apart from a mastery of theory of knowledge. My first publications 
were along this line. 

Like all American thinkers of this period, I was strongly in- 
fluenced by James's Principles of Psychology. James Ward, also, 
exercised his influence upon my psychology and thence upon 
my theory of knowledge. These men brought out the continuity 
of the field of experience and the discriminative and selective 
activity of the mind. In this I believe that they anticipated much 
of the Gestalt movement and certainly moved far away from strict 
associationism. I felt that they had analysed the actual flow of 
experience more adequately than had either Hume or Kant. 
What was needed was a fuller appreciation of the part played by 



266 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the organism in all this. In both there lingered too much of the 
tradition of psycho-physical dualism. It is my belief that recent 
work in psychology shows a better sense of the response of the 
conscious organism and the part played by this in the construc- 
tion and selection of percepts. Seeing the organism in its setting, 
I was led to think of perception as a selective interpretation of 
external things and to break away completely from the subjectiv- 
istic tradition that ideas are the objects of knowledge. I tried to 
work within the knowledge-claim and to make it pass from 
perception to critical judgment. From the very first, I found it 
impossible to find satisfaction in any form of the new realism. 
Knowledge could not be the actual givenness of the object; the 
field of consciousness was not a passive collection of things 
capable of entering and leaving it. No; knowing was a unique 
activity involving mediations and claims and pointing beyond 
itself. It was as near to the things known as we could get. Repre- 
sentative realism must be re-analysed and cut loose from Cartesian 
dualism. It was in this fashion that my particular brand of critical 
realism was born. 

The eager mind absorbs and responds after its own fashion 
and in accordance with its own insights. Those we differ from are 
often of more value to us than those who vaguely agree with us. 
As time went on, I read chiefly in connection with the problems 
upon which I was at the moment working. But I have tried to 
make up for this by covering a wide field. 

As I have already indicated, the problem of knowledge fascin- 
ated my mind jointly with the mind-body problem. It seemed to 
me then, as it seems to me still, that these two problems are in 
large measure inseparable. Make mind intrinsic to the organism, 
and you are at once forced to some kind of mediate realism. How 
can one think it out ? The weaknesses of Locke must be avoided 
by laying more stress on an interpretative activity of the mind 
and upon the direct claim to know things and not ideas. Ideas 
must be seen as ingredients in knowing. Moreover, while the 
causal conditions of knowing an external object must be recog- 
nized, they must not be allowed to get in the way of the actual 
knowing, however much they underlie it. It has taken me a very 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 267 

long time to deepen my insight into all these problems. I have 
worked on the same hypotheses with confidence and obstinacy 
these many years, but they have grown and become more delicate 
and adequate. 

So much for the biographical side and for the influences which 
I can clearly recognize. I hope that this very brief survey will 
give the reader some appreciation of the temper and content of 
my mind and of my natural mode of approach to things. Now 
to my position in philosophy. I have headed my contribution 
''Realism, Naturalism, and Humanism," because I do think these 
terms describe fairly well my outlook in theory of knowledge, 
cosmology, and values. It is not because I am fond of labels that 
I have always adopted a term to characterize my position, but 
because definite positions deserve specific terms. In what follows 
I shall describe and seek to justify critical realism in theory of 
knowledge, evolutionary naturalism in cosmology, and humanism 
in the field of values and human activities. After presenting them 
separately, I shall try to bring them together as a whole to show 
how they fit together in one Weltanschauung. 

II 

PHILOSOPHICAL CREED 

Theory of knowledge is a tantalizing, as well as a fascinating, 
field for reflection. The thinker must bear in mind the empirical 
nature and conditions of human thinking as well as the claim 
which knowing obviously makes to reveal its object. There has, 
I think, been of late a growth of insight in regard to both of 
these points. What is needed is the power to put them together. 

It has frequently been pointed out that the purely scientific 
approach is naturalistic and postulates a conscious organism 
stimulated by things and responding differentially to these 
stimuli. But such a point of view really takes knowing for granted 
and is therefore incomplete. But I do not think that such a 
standpoint is vicious, for knowledge is a fact which theory of 
knowledge seeks to explain and interpret. 

A study of the growth and conditions of knowledge uses the 



268 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

results of psychology and logic. It is then seen how the external, 
physical thing is made the object of attention, and how a pat- 
terned content arises before the individual's awareness and is 
automatically identified with the object meant and reacted to. 
A careful study of perception would show how the content of 
perception is built up and discriminated, and how meanings, 
beliefs, and selections arise along with this content to give it a 
reference to an external object. We are at a fairly high mental 
level in perception, and there is a configuration here which must 
be acknowledged. This perceptual situation can, perhaps, be 
best described by saying that the category of thinghood has been 
achieved and operates at this level. Frankly, I would make 
much of categories, but I think of them as arising in experience 
naturally under the stress of the give-and-take of the conscious 
organism and the suggestions and pressures of conscious living. 
In this way, they are responsible achievements under the control 
of the external world rather than secretions of an inner self. 
The elementary categories are, if you will, natural ways of 
interpreting the world to which the organism is responding. 

There is another feature of the field of perception which 
demands stress, and that is the presence in it of temporal and 
spatial order or arrangement. Here, again, I would differ from 
Kant and still more from the older English tradition. We do not 
begin with a chaos of sensations, but with a patterned field] and 
there is good reason to hold that the pattern is controlled in us 
by the actual arrangement of the stimuli coining to the organism. 
The activity of the organism helps to bring out this order, and 
such mental operations as comparison and discrimination further 
this end. The analogy of the camera has point, for the sense- 
organs operate after the same general plan, but we must not 
forget that the organism has inner resources which the camera 
does not possess. 

But in this naturalistic and scientific way of approach to 
perception we are stressing conditions and processes as known, 
and we are not, in the strict sense, analysing perception as a 
claim to knowledge. This approach is not irrelevant, but it 
cannot take the place of the internal study of perception and 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 269 

judgment as claims to know which must be criticized. The 
philosopher must undertake this supplementary investigation 
which works within the experience of perceiving and judging 
and tries to determine the nature and claims of knowing. And 
since the idealist has long maintained that the results of such an 
internal investigation conflict with the naturalistic assumptions 
of science, the work of analysis must be thoroughly done. 

I need not go into the history of this internal analysis of 
knowledge and its claims. Were Berkeley, Hume, and Kant 
right in arguing against a frank physical realism ? In my opinion 
they were wrong. The dualism between mind and matter, the 
assumption that we know ideas rather than things, the clumsy 
scheme of qualities inhering in a substance all these unmastered 
traditions got in the way. 

The total act of perceiving with its beliefs, categories, and 
discriminations is the most elementary unit of knowing the 
external world. Reflection shows that this complex is mental 
and intrinsic to the active organism. I beg to point out that, when 
I use the word mental, I have in mind no dualistic assumption, 
but only the recognition that we have here a peculiar activity of 
the individual. In taking the act of knowing seriously, we must 
realize that we are on the inside of this act and that the logical 
discriminations used in it are not self-sufficient atoms to be 
called mental entities. We have here a structure which must be 
taken at its face value. The mind is interpreting an object in 
terms of characters. It is thinking the characteristics of the 
object. Shift the point of view quickly from a knowledge-claim 
to a survey of what is given in and to consciousness, and these 
characteristics of things become characters of a logical sort 
undoubtedly sustained by the mind. But then we are ceasing 
to claim to know external objects. The direction of the mind 
has altered. 

How does this position differ from naive realism? In three 
main ways. First, it is more aware of the conditions of knowing; 
second, it is ready to admit the mediate, or interpretative, nature 
of knowing; and, third, it holds that reflection must work within 
perceptual knowing to lift it to more adequate knowledge of the 



270 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

object. It sees that perception is dominated by practical interests 
and bodily perspective, and passes to science. 

Let me summarize my results. In the first place, knowing is 
regarded as more than the awareness of abstracta to be called 
logical ideas. It is an interpretation of objects. Thus objective 
reference is intrinsic to the very nature of knowing whether 
perceptual or explicitly judgmental. This analysis rids us of the 
subjectivistic bias of traditional representative realism. In the 
second place, logical ideas are discriminations within a complex 
mental activity in which objects are selected and interpreted. 
We must not drop back to an atomistic psychology of sensations 
and images which ignores empirical facts. Our mental activity 
sustains for us an experienced structure in which we sense our- 
selves as interpreting objects in terms of predicates revealing 
their characteristics. This bit of redness, this instance of square- 
ness, are logical characters enabling us to grasp the characteristics 
of the object. They are to be classed as mental only when we raise 
the question of their ultimate nature as related to the mental 
act of knowing to which they are intrinsic. In the act of knowing, 
it is their logical content which occupies our interest. We look 
through them at the object. Yet reflection, I believe, forces us 
to hold that the whole complex mental act to which they are 
intrinsic is a temporal affair expressive of the brain-mind. The 
only alternative is to hold them to be essences belonging to a 
realm of being other than that of physical existence. But this 
alternative theory seems to me less simple than the one I defend 
and more traditionalistic, more a reflection of Platonism. 

The comment of the reader at this point may be somewhat as 
follows: Granted that the logic and psychology of this position 
is an advance upon Locke's and Kant's, due to the progress in 
both domains, does it not still hold that the characters held as 
predicates before the mind must resemble the qualities of the 
external thing? Yes and no. Sense-qualities fall away as we pass 
from naive to critical claims and the appreciation of structure 
and relations increases. Now the structure conceived in the 
mind does, I believe, correspond to the structure of the object. 
It is because of this correspondence that the knowledge-claim is 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 271 

justified; the logical idea does reveal the characteristics of the 
object. These characteristics must not be conceived in the old 
fashion as properties inhering in an unknown substance, but 
as the nature of the physical system known. An object does 
weigh so much, is so large, has such and such a texture, will do 
certain things under certain conditions. We must simply move 
away from the literal assignment of passive sense-qualities. 

A few words on a point which has been misunderstood is 
desirable. I was led to deny the reality of a cognitive relation. 
This did not mean that I did not supply what the cognitive 
relation stood for reference to an object and the claim to know 
it. The expression "cognitive relation" was connected in my 
mind with the conflict between neo-realism and idealism. In the 
English form of the controversy, at least, there was assumed a 
sort of tenuous relation between the mind and the object called 
awareness. Was this internal or external? Now my own analysis 
forced me to maintain that a physical object known is never 
literally present in the field of consciousness; the mind makes 
no existential contact with it except through the sense-organs. 
Knowing is a claim and reference to an external object mediated 
by meanings in consciousness. It is a sort of mental pointing and 
not a literal transcendence. This fact but brings out more clearly 
the unique nature of knowing. This mental pointing, however, is 
founded on the attitude and response of the organism in per- 
ception and the reflection of this in consciousness. Conceptual 
pointing but carries on this structure and develops it in terms 
of frames of reference. Knowing handles objects through internal 
substitutes which are supposed to reveal the nature of the 
external object. 

But, it may be replied, while you rightly avoid a gross inter- 
pretation of a cognitive relation by means of stress upon internal 
reference and claims attached to ideas, does it not remain a fact 
that the nature of the object is present to the mind? This query 
demands a reply. I do not think that, existentially, the nature of 
an object ever separates itself from the object. It can, however, 
be reproduced in the mind as an achieved abstractum and be 
held by that mind as a revelation of the nature of the object. We 



272 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

have here a logical, or better, a cognitive, identity between idea 
and object. 

This problem brings out the fact that knowing is a kind of 
operation for which we can find no ordinary physical analogies. 
It depends upon the growth and use of distinctions, beliefs, and 
categories in consciousness. An object is cognitively present 
to the mind when it is known, but such knowledge does not 
involve the literal givenness of the object as an entity within 
the field of consciousness. Knowing is a looking at objects 
through the windows furnished by ideas. It is sui generis, 
though made possible by the situation and capacities of the 
organism. 

In this very brief survey of some of the high points of episte- 
mology we have now arrived at a stage which demands the dis- 
cussion of truth. In order to secure clarity it will be better to 
limit ourselves to the question of what we mean by the trueness 
of a proposition. But, first of all, let me say that a proposition 
is to me a complex idea used in an act of knowing. It is a belief. 
Taken in this sense, a proposition seems to me to be called true 
when we consider it to give knowledge of its object, to reveal 
its object. Hence, I have always maintained that knowing is the 
basic idea which underlies truth. An idea which gives knowledge 
of its object is true. But, if this is the meaning of truth, what are 
the criteria or tests ? It is often averred that critical realism has 
special difficulties here because of its doctrine of transcendence. 
How can you check up on the idea if the object is not given? 
And if the object is given, what need have you for ideas? 

The proper approach is to ask what casts doubt on the truth- 
claim of a judgment. The doubt must be motivated and specific, 
otherwise we are merely doubting the ability of the human mind 
to know. When I come to analyse the situation, I find that the 
human mind begins in perception to interpret objects and that 
difficulties merely force a critical reinterpretation of this first 
interpretation. The basic postulate is the claim to know or, 
what amounts to the same thing at this level, the revelatory 
nature of our predicates. This postulate, if challenged, is confirmed 
by the success of our critical thinking. In other words, thought 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 278 

cures its own difficulties by showing how new distinctions satisfy 
old conflicts. The manner in which perceptual illusions are shown 
to result from our position and from the nature of our sense- 
organs illustrates what I mean. Critical thinking is the only 
remedy for specifically motivated doubt. And this success of 
critical thinking can be indicated under four headings: (i) the 
consilience of established facts; (2) the logical coherence of 
ideas; (3) agreement of investigators; and (4) guidance and 
control over nature. These headings have been so often discussed 
that there is no need to go into detail. It will be noted that I 
assign a place to both the logical and the larger pragmatic tests. 
But I am convinced that the very advance of thought rests on 
the belief that sense-perception is revelatory of nature and that 
the proper use of it enables us to penetrate into the characteristics 
of the world. The logic of science gives, I think, the proper use 
of sense-perception. 

As conclusion of this summary account of critical realism, let 
me point out what I think is important about it as a direction 
of thought. It represents a deeper insight into the nature of 
human knowing and a greater awareness of its conditions. In 
place of knowing as a semi-magical intuition or compresence of 
mind and object, it grasps knowing as an achievement in which 
ideas function, ideas being distinctions within the field of con- 
sciousness used in accordance with slowly evolved meanings and 
beliefs. In this way it shows how organic activity flowers into 
knowing. It can be regarded more as a deepening of natural realism 
than its complete rejection. What, then, can we know about 
the external world ? Essentially what science has worked out 
structure, relative dimensions, relative mass, energy-content, 
behaviour. Theory of knowledge does not so much dictate to 
science as interpret it. 

In the next section I shall pass to cosmology and defend 
naturalism. In anticipation I would point out that we must 
not forget that we have a double knowledge of our own 
organism and, aided by communication and analogy, other 
organisms. To forget this would cause unnecessary mistakes in 
cosmology. 

VOL. II S 



274 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

III 

Perhaps the best way in which I can introduce my exposition 
of naturalism is to tell why I adopted it as a term when it was 
largely in disrepute. What are the essential things for which 
naturalism has always stood ? As I saw it, they were the following : 
(i) the self-sufficiency of nature as against popular supernatural- 
ism or the sublimated sort called transcendentalism; (2) the basic 
significance for our world of space, time, and causality; (3) the 
denial of concentrated control in the universe and, in this sense, 
the acceptance of pluralism; and (4) the rejection of the primacy 
of mind. Now I was convinced of the essential truth of these 
cosmological principles and felt that their acceptance could best 
be summarized by the term naturalism. 

On the whole, too, naturalism was a much more plastic term 
than materialism. To free it from its temporary disrepute did 
not seem impossible. Perhaps the ultimate result would be a 
new form of materialism capable of including mental activity 
and human motivation by values, but naturalism was clearly 
a step in the right direction. 

The rejection of idealism in theory of knowledge, which had 
been coming apace, was already shaking objective idealism and 
spiritualism to their foundations. Critical realism implied physical 
realism, and physical realism is at least half-way to naturalism. 
Only the mind-body problem stood in the path. Achieve the idea 
of mind as intrinsic to the living organism, and naturalism is 
full-fledged. And, as I pointed out, I had always carried this 
problem in mind while I was working at theory of knowledge. 
Physical realism, plus the rejection of dualism, spelt naturalism. 

Physical realism had hitherto gone with a strictly mechanical 
view of all physical processes and with the assumption that 
knowledge gives a penetrative vision of the stuff of the physical 
world. Could both of these assumptions be challenged? If we 
know only the structure, behaviour, and relative masses and 
energies of things by means of scientific investigation, it follows 
that we cannot intuit physical systems in some more direct way. 
Any static, sensuous representation betrays the habits of naive 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 275 

realism, For this reason, it is suggestive to say that we have 
knowledge about nature rather than acquaintance with it. It is 
illuminating knowledge, but it falls short of that intimate vision 
which forever haunts us. Again, reflection seemed to show me 
that the mechanical ideal was a hasty dogma set up in opposition 
to final causes and that the character of physical changes had to 
be discovered empirically. 

Working along these lines, I was more and more convinced 
of the significance of organization in nature. Do not physical 
systems respond as wholes, and is not the nature of this response 
a function of the kind of organization achieved? Mechanism in 
the strict, traditional sense meant external relations, so that each 
event expressed a specific impact, or complex of impacts, upon 
some unit. For such an interpretation of nature, a physical 
system was in no sense an actual unity. Instead, it was a con- 
stellation of movements. 

But, if we take organization seriously, we must accept the 
rise in nature of natural kinds with specific properties expressive 
of the system. From this it would follow that we must expect 
novelty and origination in nature and what may be called levels 
of causality. Uniformity of process would no longer be the 
scientific ideal. To reduce everything to one type would now be 
looked upon as a false and impossible objective. Careful study 
must replace dogmatism. 

A comment upon the logic of this approach may be worth 
while. It seems to me clear that such a stress upon the specificity 
of physical systems is empirical rather than mystical. It does not 
cast doubt on the value of analysis, for surely it is impossible to 
conceive a physical whole which is not a togetherness of parts. 
What it does accomplish is the clearer distinction between logical 
analysis and physical analysis. In logical analysis, we seek to 
see parts in their relations by constructive discrimination; in 
physical analysis, we seek to break down a physical system into 
simpler systems which we are apt to call parts. Really, these 
simpler systems are not parts in a literal sense, for that would 
imply that disintegration made no change, a view expressive of a 
mechanical dogma. Now physical analysis often aids logical 



276 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

analysis, and is so used by science, but it is not to be identified 
with it. In logical analysis of a physical system, we must have a 
sense of the whole as constituted by its parts and of the parts in 
their relations in the whole. 

The frank acceptance of the significance of organization led 
me to reject what I called reductive materialism and to advocate 
the outlook, called evolutionary naturalism, which held that 
new physical systems arise in nature under favourable conditions, 
and that these new physical systems have properties which are 
functions of their organization. It was thus that I was led to 
interpret vital systems and, a still higher stage of the same, 
mental or intelligent systems. Life is not a non-natural force 
coming from outside, but a term for the new capacities of which 
nature has found itself capable. When certain intimate chemical 
relations and arrangements are achieved, the system can maintain 
itself under certain conditions of heat and light. And, upon this 
foundation, a new, experimental process goes on which gradually 
achieves those capacities of behaviour which we call intelligent. 

Thus far it will be remembered that I am looking upon nature 
in that external way which behaviourism has emphasized. 
When I come to the mind-body problem, I must bring in, as 
supplementary, the fact of self-observation. And, of course, both 
science and human life in general involve communication, some- 
thing not found at the lower levels of nature. 

While I was working on these lines, the books of Alexander 
and Lloyd Morgan were published. It would seem wise to contrast 
my own distinctions with theirs while acknowledging how much 
we have in common. 

Emergence has become the accepted term for novelty or 
origination in nature. If properly qualified, it seems to me as 
good a term as any other. Clearly it stands for epigenetic evolu- 
tion with stress upon the significance of organization or 
relatedness. 

For me the basic fact is the reality of change in physical 
systems. Properties are not stuck on to physical systems from 
the outside, but are expressions of their particular structure 
and method of 'go.' Much has been made of the epiphenomenal 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 277 

character of new properties. Such objections seem to me to apply 
to Alexander's system more than to Lloyd Morgan's or mine, for 
qualities simply appear as additions to the old to the immediate 
realist, however critical he may be in his epistemology. Colour bobs 
up in space-time in some mysterious fashion. But if the physical 
system is always the unit of activity, a change in the physical 
system means a new mode of activity. Properties are not entities, 
but expressions of the changed nature of the system. And it 
must be remembered that, for Lloyd Morgan and me, all 
sensory data are in the brain of the observer, itself a unique 
kind of physical system. It is the pattern of these data which 
reveals the logical character of the external system perceived 
and critically known. 

Another point. I take the famous expression, natural piety, to 
signify nothing more than the part played by observation and 
experimentation in science. It is another term for empiricism as 
against deductive rationalism. The world is what it is, and we 
must study it. The object dictates to us as knowers. 

It does not seem to me, however, that such empiricism precludes 
explanation or subordinates it to description. To connect a pro- 
perty with the particular organization of a thing is to explain it. 
To show how one organization passes into another is to explain 
it. All scientific explanation, so far as I can see, is the gaining of 
insight into the structure, relations, and operations of nature so 
that particular events can be interpreted. Explanation is know- 
ledge and cannot demand more than knowledge can give. And it 
is clear that science passes beyond mere empirical description 
and summary of events to the discernment of the structures and 
processes in nature in which these events are embedded. In short, 
in the logic of science, description and explanation are terms for 
stages in explanation, and explanation can never go beyond the 
insight which knowledge gives. 

As a frank naturalist, physical systems are for me ultimate, 
and I have seen no reason to postulate an extra-physical nisus 
of the sort that Morgan and Alexander acknowledge. Nature is 
for me intrinsically dynamic. I would express this by saying that 
causal uniformity reflects causality and causality is the 'onward 



278 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

go* of physical systems. In fact, such postulated nisus seems to 
me a shadow of dualism resembling the elan vital of Bergson. 
Evolutionary naturalism is a monistic, and not a dualistic, 
outlook. 

We are now ready to consider the mind-consciousness-body 
problem. I am persuaded that this problem is simply being 
outgrown by reason of the vanishing of old traditions and 
assumptions. The disappearance of reductive materialism, the 
growth of behaviourism, the arrival of a clearer realistic episte- 
mology are all factors. Intelligence can be studied from the 
outside and turns out to be a capacity for certain modes of 
behaviour which involve memory, integration, and novel com- 
bination of response. Defined objectively, it is a term for modes 
of operation which emerge at a certain level of evolution, modes 
of which there are degrees which must be considered qualitative. 
But self-observation gives additional knowledge of the operation 
of intelligence as it appears within consciousness at a level of 
awareness that is, conscious attention. It is at this point thai 
basic metaphysical questions force themselves upon us. 

Naive materialism was dominated by two things, against which 
the evolutionary naturalist is on his guard : (i) atomic mechanism, 
and (2) a confident vision of the very stuff of the world as some- 
how inert, internally homogeneous, solid, and alien to those 
qualitative events which we call feelings, sensations, and thoughts. 
Without fully realizing it, naive materialism was built upon the 
traditions of dualism. But we must surely challenge this whole 
perspective. What do we know from outside of that pulsing, 
integrated system the brain? Very little. We can guess, at most, 
about the action-patterns which are built up within it under 
tensions and which discharge into the motor-nerves and thence 
into the muscles. We know that past-experience is somehow 
conserved in this delicate organization and past facilities pre- 
served. The brain in its organic setting of muscle and gland is 
the mind. But, from the outside, we cannot catch a vision of this 
system as it is for itself. And to modern thought it is less a collec- 
tion of wooden atoms than a web of activities pulsing in a system 
which, though spatial, is organic. There is no cognitive vision of 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 279 

its intrinsic nature which forbids us to say that consciousness is 
there running its course. 

But what is consciousness ? To say that it is the concrete flow 
of the field of experience is not enough, though, I believe, correct 
so far as it goes. Here, again, we must avoid the traditions of 
dualism and refuse to consider it an immaterial kind of stuff. 
It would seem to be better conceived as a qualitative web of 
events intrinsic to the operations of the brain-mind. To appreciate 
this statement to the full we must realize that in consciousness, 
and in it alone, we are as conscious selves on the inside of reality. 
In knowing, we seek to transcend our own being and grasp the 
characteristics of the object known; but in feeling and thought 
we are our feelings and thoughts. 

What prevents us, then, from holding that, in our conscious- 
ness, we are literally on the inside of the functioning brain-mind ? 
As we discriminate in consciousness, so does our brain-mind 
discriminate and differentially respond to situations. Here is a 
dimension of being which external knowledge could not reveal to 
the observer, and which we therefore find it hard to think as 
intrinsic to the brain-mind, so long as we are dominated by an 
external approach to organisms. That is why a critical epistemo- 
logy is so necessary for a clear insight into the mind-body problem. 

It may be well to point out that I sharply distinguish between 
awareness and consciousness. Awareness is a characteristic 
function and contrast within the field of consciousness. It 
expresses anticipation, interpretation, and attention. Thus I am 
aware of the postman who is coming up the walk whistling. 
This awareness is complex and mediated in all sorts of ways, and 
it constitutes an active configuration within the field of conscious- 
ness. I am more and more impressed by such condensed accumu- 
lations as meanings, which are built around verbal symbols and 
attitudes. Clearly the field of consciousness reflects integrated 
mental systems which themselves are the activities and situations 
of the organism. There is mediation and originative integration 
all through it. The field of consciousness of any one moment is 
part and parcel of the functioning brain-mind. 

It follows from this interpretation that I am not sympathetic 



280 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to pan-psychism. It seems to me just the contrary error to naive 
materialism. It is an attempt to find a stuff open to inspection. 
But consciousness seems to me a web of patterned, qualitative 
events rather than a stuff. It is not conserved but evanescent, 
coming and going, but sustained by a slowly evolved system of 
propensities, habits, and mind-brain systems. It falls under 
the category of event rather than under that of substance. The 
ultimate fact which I must accept is that the brain-mind system, 
when functioning, has this qualitative dimension. And since here 
alone are we on the inside of a physical system we have no 
antecedent with which to contrast it and cry miracle. Novelty 
there is, but a novelty undoubtedly prepared for in the very 
nature of organic systems. It is our inevitably small acquaintance 
with the inside of physical systems and our broad knowledge of 
their revealed structure and behaviour, as mediated by our sense 
data, that makes the assignment of consciousness to the brain- 
mind so startling. In short, I am not persuaded of the necessity 
of either pan-psychism or of the Spinozistic postulation of uni- 
versal concomitance of the psychical and the physical. Neither 
view seems to me to take organic evolution seriously enough. 

One other question in cosmology I must touch upon before I 
pass to the locus and nature of values in the new naturalism. 
It is the attitude to be adopted to the traditional opposition 
between monism and pluralism. Perhaps it would be better to 
say singularismand pluralism, since monism has been so frequently 
employed as a term in opposition to Cartesian dualism. 

It is, I take it, obvious that singularism has been primarily a 
feature of objective idealism. The motives for it there are logical 
and appear in both Hegel and Bradley. I am persuaded that a 
realistic epistemology and a naturalistic cosmology change the 
venue entirely. Since I take space and time as significant cate- 
gories in our knowledge of nature, this distinction between 
singularism and pluralism becomes simply one of the degree of 
interdependence in nature. Singularism seems to me to stand 
for homogeneity and tightness of union, while pluralism means 
heterogenity and degrees of freedom. If pluralism is interpreted in 
this way, I am a pluralist. Let me explain. 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 281 

Take an organism. Clearly it is subject to the same gravita- 
tional relations as a stone. There is one kind of physical nexus 
binding the physical world into one system. And if the physical 
world were homogeneous, not much more would need to be 
said. But if we take organization seriously, we must admit the 
development of systems within this basic continuity, systems 
responding in accordance with their internal nature. While more 
complex and more highly integrated levels are reared within 
the system of nature and cannot violate its demands, they can 
yet add capacities for which these demands give permission and 
latitude. Thus human behaviour does not violate any of the 
demands of the inorganic world, but merely explores and expresses 
possibilities left open. It is this openness to novelty which 
evolution signifies. Thus singularism stands for general related- 
ness of the sort that physics investigates, or for a mystical unity, 
while pluralism stands for differentiation. 

There is another aspect of this question which interests me. 
If we take the universe as a space-time system more organic than 
mechanical, there still remains the problem of control. Is control 
a function of the whole? If so, the control of a particular system 
must be dominantly lodged outside itself and thus external to it. 
Why? Because it is so small a part of the system. Now I do think 
that this argument holds for a homogeneous system, but I am 
not so sure that it holds for a heterogeneous one. In a hetero- 
geneous system, self-control increases among the parts as these 
gain relative autonomy. External control sets a problem for self- 
control by giving its conditions. To make the matter short, I do 
not think that control is a mere function of the whole, but a 
struggle between the parts in a whole. The part may achieve 
new ways of doing things which give it new degrees of freedom. 
Thus human freedom means what intelligent and social organisms 
can do within the kind of a world we find ourselves in. 

I can only indicate the bearing of this analysis upon the age- 
old antithesis between freedom and necessity. It implies or so 
it appears to me that freedom stresses the side of pluralism and 
calls attention to the possibilities relative to actual conditions. 
It stands for relative self-determination as against a control 



282 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

exercised from outside by force of numbers and magnitude. It is 
a declaration of the significance of quality, integration, and kind. 
And such freedom is rather the expression of the system under- 
going change than a claim for a dualistic free will. Surely what 
happens has its conditions and soil. Freedom is a protest against 
mechanical determinism and in favour of the admission of 
activity and creativeness in nature, a creativeness whose range 
and quality varies with the level attained. Of course, this is 
only a hint of my way of approach to this thorny subject. When 
applied to man, there would be need to grasp the rdle of intelli- 
gence and the meaning of choice. 

IV 

Can humanism and values find elbow-room in naturalism? It 
was the common thesis of ethicists of the last generation that 
this was impossible. And, granted a naturalism redded to 
mechanical, or reductive, materialism, I do not think that they 
were far wrong. If mechanical relations are the sole determinants 
of conduct, our values must be epiphenomena at least, if not 
illusions. What are the new possibilities in the field of value- 
theory? 

The first thing to do, surely, is to find out what we mean by 
values. The next thing is to determine how values become 
effective in reality. 

Axiology is certainly a fascinating field, but one which has 
not yet cleared up. It has seemed to me that part of this mistiness 
has been due to the fact that epistemology and cosmology 
lagged. In what follows I shall content myself with indicating 
what seem to me the fruitful distinctions to be made. 

I would, first of all, distinguish between explicit valuations 
directed toward objects and what may be called implicit valua- 
tions, or value-experiences. It is out of the second that the first 
crystallize through concentration upon some object. 

Implicit valuations are, of course, positive or negative, and, 
taken over a time-interval, may even be a mixture of plus and 
minus. We can have a good time, an unpleasant time, or some- 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 288 

thing of a mixture of the two. These value-experiences may be 
simple or complex, elementary or sophisticated. In them is 
reflected the demand of the situation and the level of the person 
ality. The psychology of value-experiences needs study. Feeling 
and desire are obvious ingredients, and of these feeling is an 
invariable psychical matter. Desire is an interesting variable 
aflected by all sorts of conditions which play upon the propensi- 
ties of the individual. But I am inclined to hold that intellectual 
insight enters as an ingredient in value-experience and gives it 
what I would call perspective and a framework. I quite admit 
that desire and feeling are essential ingredients, but I hold that 
human value-experiences would be entirely different but for the 
depth and breadth which ideas give. All these factors are, of 
course, organic to each other. 

These value-experiences are resident in consciousness, and their 
existential status is that of consciousness itself. Hence our 
solution of the mind-body problem gives us guidance here. 

Let us turn next to what I have called explicit valuations 
directed toward objects. These may be called value-judgments 
in that they express an interpretation of an object. The problem 
before us is to decide how value-interpretations differ from 
strictly cognitional interpretations. 

At the level of practical life, our interpretations of objects 
are both cognitional and valuational at the same time. Value- 
predicates mingle with descriptive predicates. Is it not clear that, 
at this level, the meaning of an object for ourselves dominates 
our effort at interpretation? Knowledge is an instrument, in the 
main, for our response to, and use of, things. We are agents 
facing life and trying to make the most of our surroundings. We 
are seldom interested in objects in a calm and objective way, but 
link them up with our interests and purposes. 

Out of this practical attitude there has gradually differentiated 
all those specialized attitudes which we call economic, moral, 
and political. In all of these the significance of objects for our 
individual and social lives dominates. We are not trying to get 
at the object itself out of curiosity, but we are seeing how the 
object bears upon us and what we can make of it. 



284 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

It is the gradual rise of pure cognition as an ideal that has 
made all this clear. In pure cognition our aim is to think the 
object as it is in itself and in its context of objective relations. 
We seek to decipher the characteristics of objects; our aim is to 
be intellectual spectators. The object is our standard. 

Does this not throw our explicit valuations into relief ? We now 
see that in valuation we are interpreting the object as it bears 
upon our lives, upon our desires, feelings, purposes. The meanings 
which now arise are value-meanings and are very different from 
the descriptive meanings explicit in pure cognition. In the two 
cases we are not trying to do the same thing. 

Value-predicates are, then, objective in that they are interpre- 
tative of objects, but they are not cognitional. They make 
explicit what the object means to our lives and not what the 
object is in itself. 

It has seemed to me that this analysis makes the situation 
clearer than the traditional term relative does. Values are 
relative to human needs and demands because these are active 
in their determination. But the significant point is that in valua- 
tion we are not trying to do the same kind of thing as in explicit 
cognition. In both cases we are dealing with objects, but not in 
the same way. 

A value-predicate is a function of (i) the nature of the object, 
(2) the nature of our interest, and (3) the situation which is 
relevant to that interest. We may, accordingly, speak of these 
three factors as conditions of value. 

Again, we may distinguish in explicit valuation between end 
and means. We have, then, instrumental values that is, objects 
valued as instruments, and telic or end-values. 

But I must hurry to my conclusion. If values are as I have 
analysed them, they are either predicates or objects as valued. 
When we raise the question of the efficacy of values, all we 
should mean is the part played in our volitional decisions by the 
value which we assign to objects. It is in this way that values 
secure a grip upon reality. The concrete agent is the self; apart 
from the self values are abstractions. And, if our analysis has 
been correct, values are expressions of the self in its relations and 



ROY WOOD SELLARS 285 

inevitably pass over into action. It is only for those who look 
upon values as eternal and transcendent that the question of the 
efficacy of values becomes puzzling. They must postulate a 
power in these values to attract our souls. But is this not meta- 
phor? Is not self-expression the thing? Are we not integrations 
of tendencies, so that attraction expresses the stirring of some 
impulse in ourselves when exposed to stimuli interpreted to our 
souls by our minds? Our values are human values. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

Critical Realism (1916). 

The Next Step in Democracy (1916). 

The Essentials of Logic (1917); revised edition, 1924. 

The Essentials of Philosophy (1917). 

The Next Step in Religion (1918). 

Essays in Critical Realism (with others) (1921). 

Evolutionary Naturalism (1921). 

The Principles and Problems of Philosophy (1926). 

Philosophy To-Day (with others) (1928). 

Religion Coming of Age (1928). 

Also articles in various philosophical magazines. 



GONFESSIO PHILOSOPHI 



By tL EDGAR A. SINGER, Jr. 

Born 1873; Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, 

Philadelphia. 



CONFESSIO PHILOSOPHI 

IT has been said, boyhood is religious, manhood forgets. But not 
all men forget; of those who cannot, part is able to follow in the 
old, part must try new ways. From the first come our priests, 
who know; from the second our philosophers, who seek for 
philosophy either is, or else involves, the search for a religion. 
This search is of a nature to try men throughly and sort them ; 
of those who set out on it some end in a finding, some endure till 
the end, some faint by the way. The last is the easiest solution, 
and in the toilsome way through experience to religion, few endure 
for all the length of their days; most resolve themselves into 
good citizens having learned at last to follow, or learned at 
least to forget. And who shall say the world has not been 
gainer by these, philosophy's losses? But must we suppose the 
"lost ones" also to have won? 

I wish I knew; for then this confession might have been a 
religion might have been a creed in the hand instead of one in 
the seeking. But then, it would not have been written; not at 
least by a philosopher, that unaccepted lover of wisdom ; nor yet 
for philosophers, who cannot be moved to accept. It is not for 
such as we to offer creeds to one another, who cannot afford them 
ourselves. We formulate in order to revise, and when one of us is 
asked (as on this occasion) to account for his creed in terms of his 
life, 1 what is left for him to do (if he would do his best to comply) 
but to recall the dissatisfactions that have pushed him on and 
are pushing him ? His life will come before him as an education 
not yet complete; and if he would make a story of it, his only way 
can be to lend fictitious sequence to a play of influences dividing, 
not his life, but his fairly continuous attention. Thus may anyone, 
however blurred the memory of his own unimportant days, say 
with a certain truth, he has been to school to his century (itself 
a learner from others) a school whose lessons he can now recall 

> "To accord with the plans of the Committee, each article should embody 
its author's philosophical creed, together with the circumstances in his life 
history which influenced him in reaching it. We are asking in short for an 
intellectual autobiography. . . ."COMMITTEE. 
VOL. II T 



290 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

only in the order of their offering, not of his receiving. Where his 
own reflection on this experience of the years has found some 
formulation, of this he may speak by the book; but the only part 
of his "life" that can seem to himself living is the part that is 
being lived. Here ferments a lively discontent in all that has gone 
before, from which if from anything must come his hope of 
bettering the work of his hand. 

In some such way as this your philosopher would order the 
story he is invited to tell: however little it may profit his comrades 
in the cause, it must, one feels, have its comfort for the "lost 
ones" of the last paragraph from all such restless philosophy 
they at least are at rest. If besides it convey to any the singular 
satisfaction there is in that other repose, that dynamic content 
in the endless task of building and building always anew why, 
then it will not have fallen far short of what was asked for; it will 
have revealed the psychology of a philosopher, though of one no 
different from another. 

But first, by way of preface, what has held this philosopher 
from joining the majority, those who have come to rest? Of these 
we counted two classes: such as had found their religion, and such 
as had left off the search. The first, though lost to philosophy, 
have in no wise defected from its cause : never have they forgotten, 
nor is it for us to say they have lost what critical faculty once left 
them discontented with the finished things of the past. Now they 
are content again ; and we who are not toil on : they perhaps are 
the blest; and whether their inability to hand the blessing on 
comes from their want of reason or ours of understanding, how 
shall we surely know? Where, indeed, they have given reasons 
for the various faiths that are in them, we may touch on these as 
we go and hint at our own reasons contra. But where they have 
offered none, where they have come to contentment in mystical 
"creeds outworn" as once they judged of creeds why, there 
we can neither contemn nor envy what we so little understand. 
We can only know that as yet such things are not for us. 

But the second class of those who have found rest in forgetful- 
ness, namely what shall we say of these ? I believe I was about 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 291 

to say something very stupid, very respectable therefore: that 
we could learn nothing of religious interest from those who had 
forgotten religion. But when I came to think on this which I had 
always thought, a difficulty discovered itself I had never dis- 
covered before : how in the world are we to distinguish between a 
surrender of religion and a religion of surrender? Is not a "phi- 
losophy of forgetting*' itself a religious achievement, a story 
carried to its end, and ending in a creed? No sooner has one put 
the matter to oneself in this way than one realizes how long a 
chapter might be written on the "religion of forgetting." Nor 
could this chapter be unimportant; it, too, would consider how 
men had found peace or thought they had, for reasons well 
expressed or readily divined. No, I repent me of that first hasty 
diremption; none have abandoned philosophy save those who 
have found what they sought, the religion in which they could 
rest. And when I come to think of it in an autobiographical way, 
it is strange I should ever have overlooked the philosophy I had 
learned from those who in precept or example most flouted its 
name; so that if this is to be a story of my philosophic education 
it cannot do better than begin arguing itself out from some very 
low beginnings. 

1 

A philosophy inspires confidence for what its sympathies take 
in, not for what they leave out. Austerity is a poverty; and one 
mistrusts either the experience or the reflection of the philosopher 
who can find no thought of religion in a love-song of Catullus or 
the wine-lilt from a Copa 

pone merum et talos, pereat, qui crastina curai! 
Why not, then? Why not, if one is aware? 

Mors aurem vellens 'vivite/ ait, 'venio.' 

You say, the why not is too plain to need giving: who takes no 
care for the morrow, let the morrow take care of him! Well, yes; 
that we all know and are agreed on, provided there be a morrow. 



292 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

But need there be? For to let there be is a voluntary act, "and 
[as Hobbes remarks in another connection] of the voluntary acts 
of every man, the object is some good to himself/' Say, then, of 
this vivamus-amemiis philosophy not that it is foolish; but that 
its only wisdom is tragic. As a place to pass a holiday, the tavern 
is a poor place and Lesbia's arms no better; as a place to spend a 
last day, either will have scored life with one day too many. But 
is cither worse than other more approved devices for " putting in 
one's days" till some reason have approved itself for putting 
them in at all? Why not put them out? (Mors aurcm vellens . . .) 

A philosophy of forgetting is, then, a religious achievement, but 
it ends in the cult of death ; and that it should ever have been sung 
in such gay numbers (only not so gay as they sound, perhaps 
"ils n'ont pas 1'air de croire a leur bonheur") this only shows 
those who sang them to have been no true philosophers arrived 
at attainment, but just weary mortals tired of thought. Yet what 
more are the accepters of any religion that has come to terms with 
life? None but gives promise of rest to some manner of soul; but 
is it that thought shall find peace there, or that there one 
has peace from thought? All religions pretend the former; all 
philosophers suspect the latter and toil on. 

Which would seem to mean that philosophers are patient 
beyond all other men. And so they are and must needs be; yet 
they are impatient, too, in their own peculiar way. They resent 
being asked to retravel roads they have traveled before, over 
and over again. Of these ways, none more familiar than the old 
ways of hope deceived let this story take for granted the 
cumulated pessimisms of the past. No need to follow anew the 
successive disillusionment s of a noble mind as our Schopenhauer 
realized them : more beauty, fairer laws, gentler hearts, love with 
its genius for pity these, we may well agree, could end in but 
one life, the life of The Man of Sorrows. As in what but sorrow 
could nobility end, having watched the hopes of life vanish one 
by one in a depth of understanding, while "life like a pendulum 
swings on, between desire unsatisfied which is pain, and desire 
satisfied which is ennui." Then, better to forget: the philosophy 
of surrender that began with a refrain from a wine-shop ends in 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 298 

a hymn to forgetting. Only, not in askesis lies the perfect for- 
getting. 

One who has found identical reason in the "let us forget" of 
wine, love, asceticism; identical unreason in all "penultimate 
words," is not likely to have taken the sadness born of thought 
for a discovery of 1819. If he were, there is one, Schopenhauer, 
to prevent him ; than whom no philosopher has been more anxious 
to feel all history at his back. But if Schopenhauer did not begin, 
neither did he end the world's education in despair: even while 
he was writing, unknown to him across the Alps one of another 
race and other muse was exhausting the tricks of hope. Of this 
poet a word later; for the moment I would no more than dwell 
on the historical significance of this word, exhausting, in whose 
suggestion lies the one quality I take to be modern in the story 
of pessimism following on the early eighteen hundreds. Anywhere 
in the literatures of Europe the religion of oblivion could be 
illustrated; but where in the tradition we inherit should we find 
alternative solutions of life so thoughtfully examined, so patiently 
analysed, so courageously rejected as in the whole art of the last 
hundred years? Or what higher tribute could be paid the increas- 
ing reflectiveness of these years than to note their gradual toler- 
ance, their growing appreciation, their deepening understanding 
of the lives of a "Jack" and a "Jude," of the worlds of a Maupas- 
sant or a Chekhov ? No longer is the portrayal in art of the grey and 
the dark, however unrelieved, taken for morbidity; nor should it 
ever have been, for nothing can be more wholesome than the 
discouragement of complacent optimisms, nothing more salutary 
than the lesson that hope in life, if it is to be had, is not to be had 
cheap. 

However, in presence of such manifold disillusionment the 
mind is endangered of losing the one hope to which it has still a 
right, the hope that must outlive disillusionment itself, the hope, 
namely, of finding some reason for hoping. But before thought 
can turn to any fresh adventure in this sense, it must have 
simplified the bewildering display of lives- that-have-not-worked, 
by deducing their common collapse from a common principle of 
failure. Now, by nearly all this literature, the verdict of failure 



294 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

has been returned the moment a life has been brought to betray 
its unrest, inner and incurable; but, as no conscious life knows 
rest or can know, the verdict is always the same; whereon one 
by one all souls seeking peace are recommended to oblivion. To 
this, I say, most pessimism reduces its procedure; yet not all. 
For sometimes, and that where the thought goes deepest, our 
literature reveals a questioning self -critical wonder as to whether 
even this finding is the darkest thing we may find. Does the depth 
of tragedy rest indeed in a hopelessness of peace; does not a 

deeper lie in the horror of peace itself? And as this question 

brings to its close the first period of my education, let so much 
of the story end, as it began, on a purely historical note. 

In the year 1826, across the mountains from Schopenhauer 
that pale poet to whom I alluded was reading a traveler's tale 
newly brought from the East. One paragraph in particular 
caught him and held him: it sketched a scene from life, but life 
of a peace so perfect one can only liken its ways (as did our poet 
later) to the peaceful ways of heaven. Others than Leopardi may 
find matter for thought in this note, wherein the traveler narrates 
of a tribe of Asian shepherds how "plusieurs d'entre eux passent 
la nuit assis sur une pierre a regarder la lune, et a improviser des 
paroles assez tristes sur des airs qui ne le sont pas moins." 1 What 
were these "sad words sung to tunes no less so," the traveler 
fails to note; but all the world knows how Leopardi found them, 
and to what melodies he put them : 

Che fai tu, luna, in ciel ? dimmi, che fai, 
Silenziosa lima ? 
Sorgi la sera, et vai, 
Contemplanclo i deserti; indi ti posi. 

Ancor non sei tu paga 

Di riandare i sempiterni calli ? 

Ancor non prendi a schivo, ancor sei vaga 

Di mirar queste valli ? 

Soraiglia alia tua vita 
La vita del pastore. 

1 Baron de Meyerdorff, Le Journal des swans, 1826. Note furnished by 
G. Mestica, on authority of Leopardi, G. Leopardi, poesie. 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR, 295 

II 

The voice of the Canto notturno dies away on a question 

Dimmi, o lima : a che vale 

Al pastor la sua vita, 

La vostra vita a voi ? dimmi : ove tende 

Questo vagar . . . ? 

To this perfect voice of the twenties, when does that answer 
begin we have come to know so well the answer pointing to 
progress') (Not that progress is new a Lucretius could paint it, 
a Condorcet paint it well but events of the sixties and on gave 
the conception an empire it could never have held before.) My 
retrospects, as has been seen, like to begin with suspicions', and 
a suspicion of things to come is surely to be caught in the fifties, 
in songs of The Rolling Earth, in songs of The Open Road songs 
that had already come to know the universe as a road 

To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for 
traveling souls. 

All parts away for the progress of souls, 

All religion, all solid things, arts, governments all that was or is 

apparent upon this globe, or any globe, falls into niches and 
Corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads 
Of the universe. 

Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand 
Roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed 
Emblem and sustenance. 

Forever alive, forever forward, 

Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, 

dissatisfied, 

Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men, 
They go ! they go ! I know that they go, but I know not where 
They go, 
But I know they go toward the best toward something great. 1 

In 1859, comes the Origin of Species. Phrases gather round it : 
"the struggle for existence (Spencer), "the survival of the fittest' 1 

1 Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (first edition, 1855), ed. McKay, 1894. 



296 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

(Wallace). Evolution is upon us. At the end of the century, 
Nietzsche. The Song of the Rolling Earth has found words : "I sing 
to you the Superman, the Superman is the meaning of the earth. 1 ' 
Evolution has evolved into Progress ; Life has found a Goal. 

After all this rush of history, one may afford a moment for 
reflection; and nothing feeds reflection as do the contrasts of 
history. But between those offerings of the past whose lessons 
have filled these first two chapters of an "education/' the contrast 
is complete. From suspicions caught in a wine-shop developed 
that philosophy which seeking a religion of Peace found one of 
Forgetting. From a suspicion bred of the Open Road came an 
opposite motive which sought, not to end strife, but to give to 
strife an end. This end it found in the Superman; it made of this 
Goal its God. But no life wanted that Forgetting; can any want 
this God ? What makes me think none can has been argued more 
fully elsewhere; but I may be allowed to resume it here by way 
of pointing the moral of my second lesson in failure. 

One who has written goal for god, may have seized on an idea 
of real religious importance; but subject certainly to the condition 
that his god be at least a goal. And was Nietzsche's though 
he said so? Let this Superman's relation to the present be all that 
Nietzsche would have it a prevision of to-morrow's "fittest/' 
if he will. Preparing the way for these a day may be planfully 
spent eliminating "the many too many"; but what shall we plan 
for the morrow ? The same ? And for the next day ? 

What is the ape to man ? A jest and a bitter shame. 

And what is man to the Superman ? A jest and a bitter shame. 

Here Nietzsche's imagination stops ; but yours and mine go on 

And what is superman to the Supersuperman ? . . . And what?. . . 
And what ? . . . 

There is a mathematician lurking in the soul of the most 
romantic of us, and that mathematician will at once grasp two 
things : first, the series our imagination here constructs is infinite ; 
second, there is nothing about this infinite series to make it converge. 
That it is infinite is no matter; that it approaches no limiting 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 297 

conception is fatal to its defining a goal. Very likely (I should say 
quite certainly) a goal to be worth striving for has to be infinitely 
remote, essentially unattainable; but then with equal certainty, 
it has to be indefinitely approachable. There is inspiration in 
endless progress ; there is none in endless change. To climb inex- 
haustible stairs which approach no conceivable landing to mark 
there up from their down as lief be a caged squirrel busily turn- 
ing its wheel. Or as lief be a Zarathustra, busily helping The 
Moment to returnl 

For what of all things can come to pass, must they not again pass 
along this endless road that stretches before us ? 

And this slow spider crawling in the moonlight; aye, and this moon- 
light, and I and thou in the portal whispering of eternal things, 
must we not all have been before ? 

And must we not return again along that long road must we not 
eternally return? 

So spake he, and always lo\ver and lower afraid of his thoughts, and 
afterthoughts. 

But, you say, never mind Nietzsche's lack of definition and the 
vagaries of Zarathustra; is there anything in the meaning of 
evolution to prevent it from defining a goal? I think there is 

indeed, in "evolution" conceived as a struggle for existence 

with a survival of the fittest (to survive). Here is room for develop- 
ment if you please; but a development of means (weapons of 
warfare) to an end repeating itself in endless sameness. However, 
if not the Will-to-live, let us suppose a triumphant Wille zur 
Macht to evoke a limiting figure, the altogether lonely figure of a 
Conqueror of conquerors. Yet could I not call this goal a god. 
For a goal to be a god must be not only goal] it must also be 
ideal. Unattainable limit of approach, so much is every goal; the 
ideal adds one condition it must be a goal desirable. But the 
way to the All-conqueror, does it add contentment to content- 
ment, summing toward a limiting concept of desire fulfilled! 

Among the many "influences" this autobiography has had no 
time to take count of, is one its hero seems to admire more than 
do some of his neighbours: it is the patient baffling wisdom of 
certain earlier chapters in which Hegel unfolds the PMnomeno* 



298 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

logic des Geistes. There, for example, will be found that curious 
dialectic of the master and the slave] there, that apparent paradox 
of the dependence of man and god on recognition, on acknowledg- 
ment by another. Anerkennungthzt is what we live by, and with- 
out it we are nothing. It is a deep thought, for Anerkennung is 
not applause, it is not adulation, it is nothing a slave could offer a 
master not if the one were really slave, the other really master ! 
But it is what the nous in the highest rational being might offer 
to the Nous that rolls the outer heaven. Rolls the outer heaven 
and the inner spheres, stirs the muddy depths of earth, all 
to produce what? That highest rational being, the one being 
capable of recognizing his God. So much, from the most ancient 
times, has God effected that he might be acknowledged God by 
one who has knowledge of godhood. But our All-conqueror will 
not have become the All-conqueror till he shall have slain, or 
subjugated, the last of his own kind the last who had been 
competent to know power from success, the last whose esteem 
had been of any value. Why, a champion prize-fighter reduced 
to such extremity could think of nothing better to do with his un- 
disputed leisure than to devote it to the training of promising 
material, his heart meanwhile set on that distant day when he 
might once more share the world with a fellow fit to prove him. 
Then, and only then, will he recover that Anerkennung, which in 
destroying he had destroyed himself. 

No ; not if we can help it shall we ever climb those flights that 
mount from loneliness to loneliness, to heights where Caesarian 
madness waits, peerless and alone. 

Ill 

"Lonely ambition peaceful acquiescence in a common lot! 
The history of human relations is a struggle, more often than not 
a compromise, between these ideals. There is enough inspiring in 
each to make any man of understanding long for it; there is 
enough repulsive in each to turn any thoughtful soul against it. 
Wherefore the gruesome spectacle of world-war is but the outer 
and visible sign of the struggle that goes on every silent moment 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 299 

within the heart of each, as the volcano is but the overt violence 
of long sullen rumblings that have gone before. And so things 
must last if and so long as we really want two irreconcilable ideals : 
compromise must follow makeshift, war must punctuate peace, 
world without end."- To such melancholy purport did the fore- 
going lessons of an historic education once summarize themselves 
in the learner's mind. 1 

Then into a world so distraught, he imagined the advent of a 
new philosophy, which to mend the rift of historic thought 
began by rending the very thinker himself. If indeed this world 
were a house divided against itself in such wise that within it one 
desired war, another peace, then the manner of its fall were easily 
foreseen, as these two fought their difference to the death of all 
but one. Or if it were a world wherein all desired war and all 
desired peace but sought to alternate the times, then in endless 
rhythm we could see its epochs developing, evolving new weapons, 
progressing not at all. But conceive the truth to be (what our 
education must have taught us) that in this distracted humanity 
of ours all desire war, all desire peace, all desire both at once and 
always ! Then may our new philosopher venture on the scene, as 
once my mind's eye saw him. 

"His cheerful gospel is that all men's ills are curable by taking 
thought, that men suffer only for their false philosophy. Now, of 
all philosophies none is so false as that which pretends one cannot 
have his penny and his cake. True it may be in the letter that I 
cannot keep a certain copper in my pocket and honestly entice a 
sweetmeat out of the baker's window. But I must be a sorry 
philosopher if I cannot keep all the potentiality of future enjoy- 
ment the penny stands for, and yet have all the actual satisfac- 
tion I happen for the moment to visualize in the form of cake. 
Or to put the thought in less poetic and more general terms, the 
heart that thinks itself torn by conflicting desires owes its plight 
to the failure of its imagination to realize that only the formulas 
in which it has so far expressed its desires are in contradiction; the 
desires themselves may well enough be reconciled in a larger world- 
view. 

1 Modern Thinkers, "Progress/' English edition (Harrap). 



800 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

'Take our present problem for example. It is impossible, you 
say, that I should deny the ambition to conquer for the sake ot 
the love of my neighbour without killing what is most vital in 
myself. And it is equally impossible that I should give play to 
my ambition to conquer without losing my neighbour's love and 
living a lonely struggle. These things are indeed impossible in the 
world to which the imagination of the past has been fettered 
this little finite earth the fulness whereof is so easily emptied. If 
to have all that I can win of such meagre fulness is the only mean- 
ing I can give to ambition, either I must kill ambition and love 
my neighbour across a fence, or I must tear down the fence and 
kill my neighbour. Hut what if the fault of all this lay not with 
the darkness of reality, but with the blindness of untrained 
imagination? What if we could set before ambition a boundless 
prospect, so that never, far as conquest might reach, could it 
find cause to weep for lack of more to conquer? What if, in the 
very conquering of such a world, the gain of one, so far from being 
another's loss, were the equal spoil of all; yes, and a weapon 
forged to the hand of all for new victories? Wherefore then should 
ambition yield or love be denied? 

"But perhaps you will say this is but an imagining and a dream. 
Our humdrum world, the only real one, offers no such object of 
ambition; and if it did, our nature, just human nature, is not such 
as could understand, still less be fascinated and inspired by it. 

"Does it sound ridiculous to say that our world is one that holds 
out just such a prospect to all who will but see ? Aye, and that many 
a human eye has seen, and having seen remained single to this 
vision? I will call the promised land the Kingdom of Nature 
Subdued: I will call the vision the Vision of Science.'' 

But to philosophers, this vision is in principle too familiar to 
invite reproduction here; one question only of those to which it 
leads can be critical for us. One recalls how the spacious eloquence 
of Win wood Reade once projected man's development "from 
martyrdom to mastery," into a future almost too magnificent 
for prose; but does he really mean to say, can anyone mean to 
say, that the potential conquest of nature by science knows no 
limit at all? No individual now breathing expects to breathe 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 301 

forever; and must not death forever put a term to life? Our solar 
system may well enough freeze to inanimation, or crash to annihila- 
tion ; must not catastrophies of this order forever mock science's 
power to prevent ? To these and all like questions (on the occasion 
here recalled) my philosopher's vision saw with Reade's and 
answered No. ''Yes [he says] I know; the stars are rather big for 
our frail hands to play with even as all Nature once played with 
us. But how else am I to say that there is nothing [no type of 
thing] in Nature that can forever resist an onward march of 
science ? What else am I to say when the same master equations 
hold in heaven as on the earth, and Arcturus with all his sons is 
but a falling pebble painted large?" 

In no sense would our philosopher see in this famous "conquest 
of nature" a definition of that progress which justifies its goal. 
Such conquest can bring us (as Kant might have said) but 
hypothetical goods: good if the end be good. But in the search 
for a categorical good this "vision of science," though it define 
nothing, plays a most important role: it establishes a "universe" 
within which definition is possible; it offers a world-setting in 
which may be solved a hitherto insoluble problem, a problem 
whose solution is a definition of the good. This problem, already 
suggested, may now be formally worded : "How construct a world 
inhabited by many wills, in which each will pursuing its utmost 
desire shall to the utmost serve each other doing the same?" 

As two small children of men, quarrelling over a penny, if 
warned that the ground whereon they fought was the entry to 
a treasure, would forget their penny-issue to help each other 
gather, so we, turned from cramped old world-views to live in the 
vision of science, must change our ways toward one another. In 
this new world wherein no manner of goodness can stand in 
permanent rebuke of desire, what real good there is must be that 
which leads to the better: wherewith the whole conception of 
goodness melts into that of progress. This progress may best define 
itself in terms of a definite measure, the measure of life's solution 
of the problem set by history, the measure in which wills shall 
have learned neither to deny themselves, nor yet deny each other. 

By some such steps as these the "cheerful philosopher" of my 



802 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

vision was led to his final sentence, wherein progress is defined 
and measured by the measure : 

(1) of man's cooperation with man 

(2) in the conquest of nature. 

IV 

To have gathered long lessons of history in support of what 
new hopefulness their very discouragements encourage; then, 
having no more than presented this careful structure, to abandon 
it to its fate this may seem a strange procedure. Strange, yes, 
and none too willing; for it must have been pleasant to linger with 
a moment of satisfaction before hurrying on to its sequel of dis- 
content. But this is the story of a questioner whose life lies not 
in its pauses but in its motives of unrest let his biographer, then, 
tell only of these. Nor, recalling the object of his quest, can these 
be far to seek; for there are motives enough in history, and no 
less felt in life, which would lead one to question the right of his 
"life of progress 1 ' to be called a religious life. Of these, the par- 
ticular motive most disturbing our philosopher may not be at 
all the one coming first to the mind of the reader. It is not, for 
example, a fear lest this life could know no "heaven'* to which its 
faithful might aspire; no more is it a doubt as to the manner and 
measure of their "heavenly reward' '; least of all is it a hesitation 
as to the order of their "devotions. " These are none of his fears, 
but rather among those satisfactions his story might not linger 
on; yet which, since they are brief, may have such mention here 
as will serve to explain their sequel. 

First, as to the ordering of this "blessed life": He who knows 
the laboratory of science and the atelier of art has at hand a 
model (small and imperfect, to be sure) of a progressive world. 
Here indeed every ambition as it is fulfilled lays its triumph at 
every other's feet. Need one show in what measure discovery 
aids discovery, invention multiplies invention, art inspires art, 
and collaboration increases all? Yet here individualism may reign 
supreme; for what should duty find to bind, where each is self- 
bound to the common goal? In its leisures, this laborious house 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 303 

is a very Abbaye de Theleme, wherein scientist turns to artist 
for the refreshment of his soul; artist to scientist for the machinery 
of his ease. Their only common rule, "fais ce que voudras"; 
for where none can hamper any in any main ambition, who would 
control in his neighbour the spontaneities of taste, individualities 
of view-point, a fancy in selecting his personal share of the 
spoils? Need I say, the laboratory and atelier here depicted 
exist nowhere on earth as yet? But what of such workshops do 
exist come nearer to housing the ideal than does any other house 
built with hands. Of course, to accommodate all contributing 
lives our picture must be made quite roomy; and to house all that 
could if they would contribute, our shop must be built as wide as 
the world. It will then be "the world of progress.'' 

There has been mention of "one's share in the spoils" ; yet none 
who know the life-of-progress will suppose these bits of daily 
bread to constitute its "beatitudes." But just as our physiology 
gives us a sense of motion, so our psychology knows a sense of 
progress (or let me take this a little for granted) "participation," 
some have called it, and felt they knew well what they meant. 
This sense becomes with reflection a clearer and clearer perception 
of the whole mental life, a knowledge of the moment's communion 
with the whole or rather with the goal to which each well- 
directed moment tends. Those who know it (and who should 
know it better than the devoted philosopher), value this com- 
munion above all other values; it is for them their "heavenly 
reward." "Reward," do I say? A subtler mind has said better: 
truly this beatitudo "non est virtutis pYamium, sed ipsa virtus." 1 
Yet if this be the saying of a subtle mind, can none but the subtle 
experience its meaning ? The like of this question has been asked 
before, and particularly by one who in his religion treasured most 
its treasure of the humble. His quaint form of answer is of its 
time; I like it best as it stands the more literal may adapt it 

If bliss had lien in art or strength, 
None but the wise and strong had gained it; 

Where now by faith all arms are of a length, 
One size doth all conditions fit. 3 

Spinoza, Ethica, V, Prop. 42. George Herbert, Poems, "Faith." 



304 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

But indeed this "Faith" is most empirically founded; and the 
scientist who "belongs to the ages/' and the diener who "belongs 
to the shop/' may equally feel and know they feel a common 
confidence of belonging. 

But to what, you ask, do they belong? (Which returns me 
to the beginning of my "satisfactions/' for I see I have recalled 
them backward.) They belong, I should answer, to what gives the 
life-of -progress some right to be called in ancient sense religious; 
namely, the "heaven" which defines it. For who gives to progress 
only such meaning as lies in approach to the ideal has in this very 
ideal found for the pilgrim his heaven. And but for a greater 
remoteness, this heaven that is an ideal would seem little different 
in aspect from such as in the past have gladdened the eye and 
filled the thought of men devout. That goal toward which is set 
our pilgrim's progress is, as truly as any heaven, "another world" ; 
and if its walls are not as of jasper, yet they hold a desirable 
vision, a city such as might be called "the city of harmonious 
wills." To this city are bound all who are of its faith "ad unum 
Deum tendentes, et ei uni religantes animas" quite as Augustine 
would have had the religious "bound" to their goal. 1 Or if one 
were to seek a wording in which the remote ideal might make 
itself present as a voice, what better words could he find than such 
as once a Kempis heard; saying, "My son, I ought to be thy 
supreme and ultimate end, if thou desire to be truly blessed." 2 

But here my "satisfactions" end. It may be that one who has 
made of the ideal his Heaven and his God, will have thought out 
in new fashion much of what is anciently felt to reside in ' ' Heaven" ; 
but will his thought have overlooked nothing of what once was 
felt to lie deep in "God" ? At least on one point let our philosopher 
not deceive himself : he who ties his life to an ideal may be religious 
with all the thought of a Plato or a Boethius; yet can he not be 
religious with all the feeling of an Augustine or an a Kempis. 
Though he call his heaven Deus, though his ideal speak as 7, 
though he address the universe as Thou, yet can he do none of these 
things without conscious poesy. But surely he will not pretend 

' St. Augustine, De vera religione, 55; Retractationes, I, 13. 
2 Imitation, iii, 9. 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 305 

Christian thought to have been poetic not pretend it to have 
been anything less than as literal as it knew how to be in letting 
its religious discourse be of 7, Thou, and He? "It is the essential 
feature [writes a very sound historian] of the Christian conception 
of the world that it regards the person and the relation of persons 
to one another as the essence of reality/' 1 And will a "religion" 
have lost nothing but imaginings of the fathers, when, however 
it may have affirmed man's bond to heaven, it has let slip from 
its care the bond of man to man ? 

In songs of wine and love, in songs of the Open Road, lay 
suspicions of meaning which when followed led to the depths; 
and in the language of hymns, and in the language of prayers, 
shall there be no suspicion of heights ? 

V 

Thus are we come to those present questionings, to that 
"lively discontent in all that has gone before/' to which the 
first pages of this story pointed as the burden of its last. True, 
this unrest, could it offer no reason for its being other than an 
unreasoned confidence in the depth of historic insights, might 
communicate itself to few. Few would assume that every 
strong suspicion history has entertained must find confirmation 
among the maturities of thought; few would pretend that every 
"demand of the heart" for being strong and old must therefore 
be genuine and undeceived. No doubt humanity will have dreamt 
its vivid dreams, suffered its persistent delusions; and perhaps 
nowhere more than in its religious consolations has it been the 
victim of "other worlds" born only of dreamers' hunger and 
desire. But when this hunger and desire is as deep in the present 
as in the past; when it is so part of one's self and one's familiar 
kind, that had no historic religion taken it to heart, yet might 
no future religion ignore it; when, in short, it is the clutching of 
mortal for fellow-mortalthen indeed an ideal to which person- 
alities are nothing can hardly pass unquestioned for a religion. 
Not at least with us, for in these pages (it must by now have 

" Windelband, History of Philosophy, tr. Tufts, 238. 
VOL. II U 



$06 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

become clear) " religion 1 ' has had no other definition than the 
acknowledgment of some end in whose pursuit all desires are 
fulfilled. For one who so defines, an "austere* 1 religion is none. 

And so, of this old division between allegiance to things eternal 
and attachment to things ephemeral, how willingly would our 
"idealist" hope it might be mended by old devices! Is it not, 
after all, but a dilemma in the manner of all dilemmas wherein 
pennies vie with cakes and cakes with pennies? But a thousand 
experiences of life show how cake may be had and penny held for 
no more than a little thought on ways of having and holding. It 
was even by thus enlarging the "universe of possibilities" within 
which our thought might move that we brought under one ideal 
the demand for spoils unyielded and the demand for friendship 
held. Why not, then, set ourselves anew to the stretching of boun- 
daries, till they shall have touched those generosities within which 
aspiration and attachment are equally at home? But alas, the 
imagination of him whose education these pages recall, has 
reached its limit; in stretching the world of its contemplation to 
make room for that last "vision of science" it has exhausted all 
it knows of its own elasticities. Wherefore, so far as it is concerned, 
if a world is to be thought of wherein (what have sometimes been 
called) "love of God" and "love of neighbour" are at one, this 
can be no "other world" no other than the very one to which it 
last came and to which it feels itself confined. Hence the anxiety 
of its questionings! 

But indeed, any who would know whether eternities and fleeting 
loves may be held in one desire has a right to his anxieties, if 
aught depend for him on wringing from ancient experience an 
affirmative advice. History is at one in its negative; divided only 
on the matter of which to choose and which to lose. Plato and 
Catullus are at one: "Ideals or Lesbias, not both/ 1 Only, then, 
Plato elects for the eternal Idea, rejecting other loves with their 
tortures. While Catullus, poor worldling, clings to this very 
torture (odi, he cries, et amo) ; for what so hurts is real as for him 
nothing else can be. But this one of these is the history of all 
the world. Of nearly all the world; for I think history may hold 
one exception, one lonely being who seems to gather in a same 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 807 

embrace the eternal and the fleeting. If of his wordless philosophy 
I have caught any suspicion, this may show in the sequel. 

Meanwhile, with all the weight of history against it, how absurd 
must sound the suggestion that for man's advance along the way 
we have figured as "the heavenly" there is no condition more 
necessary than the one all reasoners have contemned the 
attachment of person to person ! Or if that be not the limit of 
absurdity, then perhaps this is (which might be called its converse) ; 
namely, that "to lose oneself in the moment" could have no 
other charm than such a charm as death has; but to have delight 
in the moment, one must be carried beyond it, beyond any 
"Verweile nur!" and on to a "VergehM" But let these be the 
absurdities they seem, still do they bring to this winter of my 
discontent its first suspicion of spring; which though it prove 
deceptive may be a pleasanter deception to unfold than any 
other I might have chosen as end for this unended story. Let me 
unfold it, then, as I can. 

Or rather, only the first riddle, for of the second all will have 
guessed the answer. Is there indeed any moment of joy to which 
one will say "Depart 1" save a moment made joyful by its promise? 
But if here there is neither room nor need to expand this common- 
place reflection, yet it seems wise not to have left it unnoticed. 
For in a sequel suggesting the dependence of progress (i.e. of the 
promise of life) on attachment to things of the moment, our 
thought might have come to lack balance had it allowed to escape 
it the equal force of the converse : no moment can hope to attach 
us, save a moment of promise. 

And so, only of the first of our absurdities; only of that attach- 
ment to perishing things which, though it boast its spendthrift 
waste, must in just the measure of its genuine being, consent 

to serve the eternal ! It is generally admitted that for any 

manner of thing to be made, the matter it is to be made of is of 
importance to the maker. "The artist must know his medium"; 
yes, but how much vaguer than paint and vaster than canvas 
must this medium be, if with the colourings of his soul he would 
colour the souls of men. Just so with that other artist, whom I 
imagine we may call "the religious," and who would form the 



808 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

common clay of which he and his fellows are made closer to a 
likeness of "the children of God." No doubt as a conqueror of 
nature, he is but a laboratory soldier serving with others like 
himself in the cold technique of science; and as with all soldiers 
the world over, when he falls his place in the ranks is taken by 
another, his function is continued, the disappearance of his per- 
son is nothing to the cause. So much, then, of progress as depends 
on subduing the mechanism of things to the manifold desires of 
men is no respecter of persons. But he who supposes the progress 
here defined to be no more than this conquest of nature, has missed 
our imperfect warnings; yet he may now recall progress to have 
been first of all measured by ''the measure of man's cooperation 
with man." Of course, all cooperation must be in something; 
and the last clause of our definition does no more than specify that 
the cooperation measuring progress shall be in the conquest of 
nature. For his part in this collaboration your religious artist 
must know (or help him who knows) his instrument of exact 
science, just as painter must know pigments, brush, and surface. 
But must he not also know, just as the painter must know, the 
humanity on which he need work if he would persuade it to work 
in harmony ? Now that humanity in himself and others is heir 
to the warfare of "evolution": it is a most recalcitrant medium. 
How, then, should that part of the religious task wherein man is 
artist and medium of art dispense with any least bit of "worldly 
wisdom"? Never can it be furthered by the aloof; it is the work 
of the knower of men. But now, this knower of men what manner 
of man is he ? 

Whether it be comic or tragic, it is always a stupid deception 
to suppose knowledge of men to be gathered from statistical 
study of (what is called) humanity. The humanitarian who 
cares for "cases," who measures his benefits in numbers, is a 
follower of that "cold statistical Christ" all human feeling mocks 
at. Quite other must have been that Friend of Man one feels back 
of all history; that "lonely being" whose wordless philosophy 
may have illumined these last pages with what dim light shows 
through them. Nor is this the Man of Sorrows whom Schopenhauer 
Jiad accepted; for to know men with that knowledge which alone 



EDGAR A. SINGER, JR. 309 

can help the religious artist in his art is not to feel through 
sympathy that in which all men are one, but to divine (through 
quite another organ of understanding) that in which all men 
differ and are forever held apart. This it is whose presence in 
reality makes "the person" to be of its "essence''; this it is we 
figure forth as "the personal point of view"; this it is makes the 
world look and feel one thing to you, another to me, the same to 
no two that ever were or shall be. It comprises all that unsharable 
loneliness in which the heart knoweth his own bitterness and by 
which the stranger is excluded from his joy. To penetrate to the 
heart of this individuality and never to ignore what is learned 
there; to keep individuals apart in understanding that they may 
be brought together in will this is the knowledge of his medium 
without which your religious artist can be no great composer of 
the harmonies he dreams. 

But since, you say, this individuality into whose interior 
understanding is invited, is exactly that loneliness in which the 
stranger doth not intermeddle, how shall the stranger enter? To 
be sure, the stranger may not enter there; the classifying humani- 
tarian may not ; only the friend and lover may. And only he, by 
virtue of no mere kindliness and inclination, but by strength of 
that attachment which makes its object irreplaceable, unique in 
the lover's world even as in its own; and only then, by the virtue 
of whatever genius it is lets one "love another as oneself/' Such 
love, alone in all this world, has learned to say Thou to anything 
this world contains ; such love alone, as all the world knows, has 
learned the language which has no tongue to it alone can be 
delivered the secret which has no words. So (as nearly as our poor 
language reaches to describe a common enough experience) may 
"other worlds" be delivered to an understanding capable of 
seizing them. Naturally, a world so without double can be de- 
scribed in no generalities of speech ; yet it is exactly of such incom- 
municable worlds the world consists. "The world"? That is, the 
very same "universe of discourse" in which was set the problem 
of progress. It is, then, in this world (which truly is not far from 
us) that any real aspiration toward the eternal must not only 
consist with but depend on real attachment to the ephemeral. 



810 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

It may well be, then, that progressive lives, "ad unum Deum 
tendentes," will hardly be able to put their thought into deeds 
without feeling the depth of that " wordless philosophy/' that 
philosophy Erasmus calls the philosophia Christi, that philosophy 
whose followers came to "regard the person and the relation of 
persons to one another as the essence of reality.' 1 For if not in 
the way here suggested, then in some other way this philosophy 
held in one embrace the eternal and the fleeting; and no less than 
this must any philosophy effect, that would make a religion of 
progress. 

"If this be mysticism," I catch myself answering that part of 
me which stands guard against such treacheries of thought, "if 
this be treason, make the most of it!" But why should it be? 
Granted the genius for that "love which individuates" (as Royce 
so well characterizes the personal feeling we have here in mind) 
granted this genius to be beyond all learning ; yet is it so only in 
its practice. Its sudden seizing on things before they shall have 
vanished even as all life vanishes, that cannot be learned; that 
cannot be learned in time. But in after- thought, in late after- 
thought, is there not room for this reflection: Throughout the 
slow growth of science and of articulate discourse, just such 
incommunicable view-points as have been occupying our thought 
have painfully found a way to compose their independent findings 
into one space-time world: and shall the lonely griefs and joys of 
men for ever remain a pluralistic universe ? Will they, if thought 
and will are bent in common religious interest on making this 
universe one? 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

Modern Thinkers and Present Problems. (New York: Henry Holt & 

Co., 1923; London: Harrap & Co., 1925.) 

Mind as Behaviour. (Columbus, Ohio: R. G. Adams & Co., 1924.) 
Fool's Advice. (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1925.) 



NATURE AND MIND 



By CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 

Born 1862; Formerly Professor of Psychology, Columbia 
University, New York. 



NATURE AND MIND 

I AM the son of a Baptist minister conservative in his views, but 
admirable for energy, order, and exactness, and of a mother who 
joined keenness of vision with patience. In correcting the proofs 
of my father's work on theology I was so repelled by the unnatural- 
ness of the suppositions which theologians made in order to recon- 
cile the conflicting stories in the Gospels, that the foundations of 
my belief in Christianity began to crumble and I could not become 
a minister myself as I had intended. At about this time I had the 
good fortune to study under William James. The questions debated 
in his classes, beginning with the infinity of time and space, 
interested me so much that, free at last from a false position and 
able to follow my natural bent, I chose philosophy as a calling. 

James was a finitist and looked to some 'form of idealism as 
an escape from the actual infinite. But I could not see how space 
could have limits, or time a beginning and an end. I submitted 
to him a paper maintaining their infinity; and I well remember 
how, when he returned it to me with the margins filled out with 
comments in the opposite sense in his beautiful handwriting, I 
felt at first like sinking through the floor; but on second thoughts 
came to the conclusion that I was right after all. 

I had previously sat under a sturdy Scotchman, who proved 
the truth of Hamiltonian realism by pounding on the table. The 
mind, located in the nerves, he told us, came in contact with 
external matter and knew its existence directly. It occurred to 
me that the intervening cuticle must prevent the contact and 
knowledge from being absolutely direct; but, when I urged this 
difficulty, he told me not to ask silly, hair-splitting questions. 
This was my first glimpse of the problems of philosophy. 

James was the most responsive and open-minded of teachers. 
Perplexed in his thinking, but simple, honest, and deeply interested 
himself, he was a cause of thought in his pupils. We read Locke, 
Berkeley, and Hume, and I heard his lectures on Herbert Spencer. 
The problem of perception unfolded itself before me. From the 
stimulating conversation of a friend I learned the importance 
in this connection of physiological and what I may call medical 



814 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

considerations, and began to study anatomy and physiology. I 
turned for further light to psychology, and for a time looked at 
philosophical questions from a narrowly psychological point of 
view, ignoring the logical and epistemological refinements which, 
as I was later to learn, were necessary to their accurate solution. 
The relation of mind and body became my especial problem. 

I studied in Berlin under Paulsen, whose sober, judicious mind 
seemed and seems to me still the model for a philosopher. Philo- 
sophy, to Paulsen, was completed science "das einheitliche 
System alter Wissenschaften." His panpsychism, derived from 
Fechner, promised an explanation of the connection of mind and 
body, to me still the only intelligible one. The key to their 
connection was to be found in perception, as I shall explain 
in a moment. At this time I held that the stuff of all 
things was "consciousness" little suspecting the ambiguities 
hidden under that obscure word. My doctrine of perception was 
subjectivist : I said to myself that what we mean by an object 
is something possessing colour and other secondary qualities ; and 
it was easy to show that these depend for their appearing on an 
intra-orgamc process. But I also believed in a real thing, oi 
which the phenomenal object was the representative a thing in 
itself : and, as the intra-organic process referred to was one taking 
place in this world of real things, supposed myself to have attained 
to a satisfactory realism. It was long before I became aware of 
the contradiction that may be said to lie in such a complete 
denial of the identity of phenomenon and thing in itself. The 
truth, I now think, is that phenomenal thing and real thing are 
always identical in the view of the naive percipient and for his 
intent, but, in fact, are in some respects identical and in other 
respects not so, according as perception is veridical or erroneous. 

My views at this period are contained in my first book, Why the 
Mind has a Body. I had the doubtful notion that it was desirable 
to make the title of a book convey its doctrine; and as the bodili- 
ness of things was, on my theory, due wholly to perception a 
thing which in itself is consciousness (or, as I should now say, 
something midway between mind and matter) appearing to the 
senses as material I thought that my doctrine explained intelli- 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 315 

gibly the why of the connection. It did not, of course, explain why 
the psychical existent appearing as the brain is connected with 
the outlying existents that appear as the rest of the body. Every 
conception in that book- consciousness, perception, the relation 
of phenomenon to thing in itself I have since subjected to 
revision and materially altered, as indeed was necessary; but in 
substance I still regard the solution offered as sound, and even 
know of no other suggested solution, alternative views seeming 
to me to consist in suppression of the problem. 

I take some credit to myself for having changed my opinions 
in philosophy from time to time, and feel more respect for a 
philosopher who thinks differently to-day from what he did 
yesterday than for one whose position remains always the same. 
Of course when a man is right he does well to remain so. But the 
opinions even of philosophers are partly the result of circum- 
stances, as is evident in my own case; and, to free oneself from the 
control of accident, discussion with men of other ways of thinking 
is requisite. 

I have been singularly fortunate in the opponents with whom it 
has been my privilege to discuss philosophy; chief among whom 
though I can hardly call him an opponent! is Mr. Santayana. 
We were students together at Harvard and Berlin, and then 
for a time saw little of each other; but, meeting again in the 
middle years of life, we had long conversations about fundamental 
matters, and I owe it to these that the neglected logical side of 
philosophical problems was brought to my attention. At a certain 
date I had come to the conclusion that intelligent discussion of 
perception required the recognition of three categories: the object 
or existent thing, the subject or self, and the form in which the 
thing appears to the self. Santayana's conception of ''essence" 
seemed to me to be the right definition of this form, this third 
category. I also made at this time a correction of my view as to 
the relation of phenomenon and thing in itself, a correction 
destined in time to free me from the fallacy of representationism. 
It consisted in recognising that, since the real thing is that con- 
cerning which perception brings knowledge, it, and not the 
phenomenon, is really entitled to be called the "object. " The 



816 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

phenomenon, in other words, is not an object, but only the form 
(perhaps correct, perhaps incorrect) in which the object appears. 
The thing in itself is thus no longer an unknowable a Ding an 
sich in the bad sense but is that which is known; and only 
capable of being known falsely as well as truly. These two changes 
mark an epoch in my thinking. 

I had also come to perceive the ambiguity of the word "con- 
sciousness," and to see the need of distinguishing between aware- 
ness and the subject which is aware. James, with whom I had 
some useful discussions, now published his important article, 
"Does 'Consciousness' Exist ?" I had never believed in a "Soul/' 
distinct from the existent that appears as the body and anti- 
thetical to it in nature; and I readily agreed that awareness, if 
conceived as such an immaterial existent, is "the last faint breath 
left by the Soul." On the other hand, I could not accept James's 
view that the only consciousness or awareness we need recognise 
is the phenomenon re-baptised. For I considered that subject 
and object whose relation, in perception, corresponds to that 
between the organism and a thing in its environment are two 
existents and not one, and I held that each of these existents is, 
in its own nature, psychical rather than material. All existence 
is material as well as psychical, if by "material" you mean not 
in time only but also in space ; but perception (being a view of an 
existent from without) does not show us what is the nature of the 
existents that occupy space, while introspection in my opinion 
does show us what is the nature of the self namely, that it 
consists of feeling. The phenomenon arises by the use of feeling 
to bring before the subject the existence of objects; it is a product 
,of a highly complicated situation occurring in the life of animals, 
and the last thing that can be properly looked to as constituting 
in its own being the stuff of which reality is made. And yet the 
phenomenon, in so far as it is veridical, correctly reveals the 
outlines of the external object. 

While thus rejecting James's view of the unity of subject and 
object (if "object" means real thing) in the moment of perception, 
I heartily agreed with it in so far as it was a doctrine of the 
substantial unity of subject and phenomenon. For the phenome- 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 817 

non, as I have just explained, arises by a portion of the feelings 
constituting the subject being used to mirror real things external 
to him. James's view that in "experience (if by that term we 
mean the subject's life, not his mirroring of objects) there is no 
inner duplicity, and that of this life feeling is the nature thus dis- 
pensing with an entity which feels seemed to me sound and an 
important advance; indeed, I had been led to it by my own 
thought. The neo-realistic doctrine that the subject is the object 
looked at from a new point of view, or taken in a different con- 
text, really expresses the same insight as my doctrine that 
phenomenon is produced by the use of the subject's life to mirror 
objects; but my doctrine avoids that attribution of existence to 
the phenomenon as such, that complete identification of the 
phenomenal with the real, which, I must hold, is the fallacy of 
neo-realism. In his Psychology James speaks of "an undertow 
drawing us back to the Soul" : the soul to which I have been drawn 
back (or led forward) is one made of psychical atoms, which 
appear or might appear as the atoms of matter. 

I want to take this opportunity of acknowledging my great 
indebtedness to James. From the first I felt the concrete, empirical 
quality of his mind, so different from the confident rationalism 
of his Hegelian colleagues; their views seemed in some respects 
more logical, but he was more cautious and alive to facts. It 
was only later that I awoke to the originality and vigour of his 
thought. I could never accept his pragmatism, nor one-half of his 
radical empiricism (the phenomenalistic side of it), nor his indeter- 
minism. His "will to believe" still seems to me the makeshift of 
a mind not free from credulity. Yet it was from him (from his 
article in Mind on "The Function of Cognition") that I got my 
mechanical explanation of awareness as a mirroring effected 
through behaviour, in a certain causal setting; from him or with 
his aid, the view that the core of the self lies in feeling, not in a 
Soul or in awareness; from him, encouragement to a pluralistic 
or to use a term which I remember his quoting from Charles 
Peirce synechist view of things. 

Unfortunately James was too much under the spell of the 
JHegelism he detested and of the British philosophy in which he 



318 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

had been brought up. Shadworth Hodgson had convinced him 
that things were "what they are experienced as being." The phrase 
covers a fatal confusion. True as it is that we can learn of existents 
only through experience, and are dependent on experience for 
our knowledge of what they are, to say that they consist of 
experience (ours, that is, not their own) is, in effect, to say that 
they exist by our seeing, hearing, and touching them. In truth, 
sight, hearing, and touch are, as Berkeley saw, a language which 
conveys the presence of things, but does not deliver them over 
bodily. In Santayana's apt phrase, perception is "a salutation, 
not an embrace." We are put in touch with reality by what he 
calls intent, not by an infallible intuition. The trouble with the 
empiricist philosophies now so much in vogue is that, when they 
analyse perception, they begin by dropping the intent. 

What is intent? It is the inevitable implication of the active 
side of our nature, by which, when an object produces an impres- 
sion on us, we are moved to behave not with reference to the 
impression, but to the object which is its cause. When a light 
strikes the eyes, they automatically direct themselves upon the 
source from which the light proceeds; and all the rest of the body 
follows suit. This direction upon an object or "reference to an 
object," in the consecrated phrase is the uniform characteristic 
of all our cognitive experiences; it depends on behaviour, or the 
readiness to behave; and the object upon which the experiences 
are directed is evidently distinct both from the experiences them- 
selves (the impressions or sensations, that is, which it has pro- 
duced in us) and from the use of these experiences to convey it, 
and only not distinct from that which we, who have the experi- 
ences, intend. The thing as experienced may differ from the 
thing as it is, if the impressions produced chance to be such as to 
convey the latter falsely (as in the case of projected after-images 
or of double vision), but what is experienced is always meant to 
be identical both in being and in quality with the real thing; 
and must be supposed really to be so to some extent, if we are 
ever to attain to knowledge at all. The assumption of their 
identity is what Santayana calls animal faith. 

The strong point of current neq-realism is its insistence on the 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 819 

necessity of this identity. But, owing to its lack of a satisfactory 
doctrine of consciousness- -its ignorance of the manner in which 
phenomena are brought into being it is led to deny, in the face 
of fact, that appearances can ever be erroneous, and to conceive 
perception, in the old naive way, as infallible intuition of the real. 
This is the last faint breath, or rather, still strong breeze, left in 
the air of philosophy by British empiricism, with its doctrine that 
objects are "impressions" (not that which impresses), "sensations" 
(not the external source of sensations) ; and by German transcen- 
dental idealism, with its extravagant thesis that Nature (not 
our awareness of Nature) is a creation of thought. Kant was the 
eater of sour grapes when, instead of replying to Hume by pointing 
out the activity and consequent intent that underlies our cognitive 
experiences, he continued Hume's sceptical slumber by declaring 
that we cannot by means of our eyes, ears, and hands, or rather, 
of the trustful intent which the use of these implies, know the 
existence and nature of things outside our bodies. I say "outside 
our bodies," for the things that are there are also outside our 
minds. 

The antidote to this error lies in seeing that there is no aware- 
ness or intuition except so far as the subject behaves as if there 
were a real thing, and so has intent. Doubt is psychologically 
secondary; it can arise only by a subsequent questioning of the 
intent and assertion in which we engage by instinct. The reply to 
Hume is that, unless one acts as if things were real, one has 
nothing before one's mind at all. The cases in which we repute 
things, such as winged horses, to be imaginary, or think of abstrac- 
tions, such as virtue, are late artificial products, impossible except 
by the complex exercise of a function which, in its original use, 
involves the belief that objects seen and touched are real. But 
philosophers have imagined that knowing and acting were quite 
separate that we could first barely contemplate without any 
bodily activity being involved in the contemplation, and then 
proceed to act. This is not the case. There is no knowledge without 
attention, and no attention without some sort of bodily response, 
which is what gives direction upon an object and converts mere 
feeling into awareness. 



320 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Philosophers would not have fallen into this error if they had 
concerned themselves less exclusively with knowing, and paid 
more attention to feeling and will. For in these we have states of 
mind which cannot be treated as mere data of intuition. How 
often do epistemologists seem to be looking at perception solely 
from the point of view of vision, and forgetting that the same real 
thing may be given at once in terms of sight, hearing, and touch! 
How rarely do they ask what is the nature of the occurrences in 
the nervous system with which knowing is immediately connected ! 
Physiological psychology, to be sure, is a creation of the last sixty 
years, and Kant and Hume cannot be blamed for non-acquain- 
tance with its results. 

A word must now be said about introspection. A person seeing 
or hearing is usually aware only of the object seen or heard, 
and unaware that he sees or hears; yet at any moment he may 
become aware of this. Epistemologists often suppose that what 
he then becomes aware of is his awareness that is, the relation 
of seeing or hearing between himself and the object. That this 
is not the correct account of the matter may be seen from the 
fact that, in becoming thus aware, he ceases wholly to be aware 
of the seen or heard object, and therefore cannot be aware of a 
relation or a cognitive function connecting him with it. As James 
has shown, there is no such datum of experience as awareness. 
Awareness is a functional relation between self and object inferred 
by the mind after the fact, and that can be inferred only when the 
self has already been cognised. What the introspecting person has 
really apprehended is a state of himself. He has become aware 
that the light or the sound is not merely an external object, 
but at the same time a mode of his own being. And he has learned 
this, not, as James supposed, by considering it in a different 
context, but by altering the direction of his attention so that 
thf, light or sound, which at first was viewed solely as an 
external object, is now viewed as internal to him and as a state 
\of his being. What he has mistaken for awareness is the sentient 
o^r psychical nature of this state of himself. In this state, the 
and the that stand on exactly the same footing: there is 
awareness of one by the other or, in James's phrase, no 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 

inner duplicity. And when this state is projected outward and 
used to bring an external light or sound before him, there is again 
no inner duplicity, or at least subject-object relation, between its 
aspects : the quality is taken as the quality of the object, and the 
sentient being as the apparent being of the object. 

Introspection, then, is self-awareness. It is made possible by a 
new direction of the attention, supervening upon the old sensuous 
matter; attention involves reaction, which is as necessary to 
awareness of the self as it is to awareness of external things ; by 
behaving with reference to what is within our bodies we are 
enabled to take notice of the state by means of which we see or 
hear. 

The existent of which we thus become aware is just as truly 
other than our awareness of it, and just as much brought before 
us by a phenomenon not necessarily coincident in all respects 
with the real thing known, as in the case of external perception. 
The feelings composing the self are not given to awareness merely 
by existing; visual sensations exist in us whenever we see, but 
what we are ordinarily aware of is not they but only the objects 
seen. The sensations become our objects only by our actively 
making them so. Thus I differ from most contemporary thinkers 
in holding that Kant was right in his belief in an ''internal sense," 
however erroneously he may have conceived it. Introspection 
lost its credit with philosophers only as a result of the general 
substitution of phenomena for real things, of the transcendental 
for the transcendent ; and a thoroughgoing realism should recog- 
nise introspection and apply realistic principles to it, among these 
the distinction of the real and the phenomenal, no less than to 
perception. 

A philosopher so full of animal faith and so generous in the 
assumption of reals as I am is bound to give an answer to the 
ultimate question concerning all knowing, namely, this: What 
security have we that, in any case whatever, the real thing is as 
it is experienced as being? To this question I have a special and a 
general answer. The general answer is that, as we know only by 
animal faith that anything exists, so we can know what things 
are only by the exercise of more animal faith. If you haven't 

VOL. II X 



822 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

it in you to exercise animal faith, cease to know altogether. But 
then do not philosophise. For myself, my animal faith is so great 
that I feel perfectly sure that all existents are in space as well as 
in time. I do not think that they are coloured, because physics 
g ves a colourless account of the nature of the different wave- 
lengths of light, and because psychologically I can conceive 
colour arising as a quality in phenomena through the "simplifica- 
tion' 1 of psychical elements which have it not. As for those who, 
with Kant, imagine that external reality may be non-spatial and 
non-temporal, it may be said of them that if they had animal 
faith as a grain of mustard-seed they would not try to remove 
mountains. 

The special answer is a complex deduction from the whole of 
the preceding theory. According to this theory, phenomena arise 
through the use of psychical states as signs, and the real things 
must therefore be supposed to differ from one another much as 
their phenomenal presentments do. The phenomenal presentment 
of a psychical state, to perception, is an event in the nervous 
system; and nervous events differ so widely from events outside 
the body that such psychical states as visual sensations even 
when modified by ' 'projection" cannot be supposed to reveal 
more than the true outlines of external things. In introspection, 
on the contrary, a psychical state is used as the sign of another 
just preceding psychical state (in phenomenal terms, a nervous 
event as the sign of another nervous event). In this case, accord- 
ingly, the real thing and the vehicle by means of which it is 
presented are alike. We may therefore reasonably assume that 
the nature which introspection shows us namely, feeling is 
the true nature of the existent cognised. The fact that in all our 
feelings, not in visual sensations only, traces of "extensity" are 
detectible confirms me in the belief that feeling, or something which 
by integration gives rise to it, is the reality that is spread out 
in space. 

We are witnessing at present, as a result of the astonishingly 
successful labours of physicists, a substitution of the notion 
of energy for the traditional conception of matter. It is one of my 
greatest regrets that, owing to mysmall knowledgeof mathematics, 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 323 

I am unable to enter into the details of their reasoning and under- 
stand fully the processes by which such marvellous results have 
been reached. I am obliged here to fall back on authority; and I 
confess to a certain satisfaction in finding that better qualified 
thinkers, such as Bergson and Whitehead, consider Einstein's 
presumably correct mathematics to be capable of an interpreta- 
tion more in harmony with common-sense ideas of space and 
time, and that so profound a physicist as Larmor declares New- 
tonian time to be essential to astronomy so that we need not, 
as at present advised, regard a universal cosmic time as an 
exploded superstition, or cease to believe in a strict simultaneity 
between events distant from each other in space. 

Panpsychism would, of course, be a futile philosophy if it 
were inconsistent with these great advances in physics. But the 
contrary, I think, is the case. Since physics has abandoned the 
conception of matter as ultimate and substituted for it that of 
energy, without professing to explain what energy is in itself, 
and since the progress of my own thought has led me to discard 
my early notion that the stuff of things is "consciousness" and 
to conceive feelings as not even necessarily coincident with the 
data of introspection, it seems to me that physics and my philo- 
sophy have been approaching the truth from opposite sides. I 
remember how inept it seemed to me, in the early days, of Spencer 
to derive consciousness from purely physical being by saying that 
it first became "nascent" and then effectively real. I still believe 
that one cannot get feelings by a continuous process out of 
energy unless one conceives energy in a very particular way; yet 
my fundamental conviction is that all things, even consciousness, 
do arise by continuous process, and I think that the evolution 
of mind out of the apparently non-mental is a problem which 
philosophers must now take in hand. 

My epistemology, it will be seen, is a combination of sen 
sationalism with behaviourism. Behaviourism without feeling 
seems to me ridiculous (does anybody really hold it?), and 
sensationalism has been often enough denounced; but, together, 
I believe them capable of giving a satisfactory explanation of the 
psychology of knowing. The view of knowing to which they lead 



324 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

is such that what appears to us as material may quite well, in 
itself, be sentience, or a raw material out of which animal sentience 
is made. 

But how, the reader unaccustomed to the paradoxes of philo- 
sophy may ask, can we possibly believe that mountains, and 
white-hot stars, and the electrons of physics, are one and all 
made of feeling? The answer is (i) that feeling, as it exists in 
human beings, is a tremendously complex integration of elemen- 
tary units, permitting them to mirror external things and one 
another for the better regulation of conduct; (2) that the first 
essential of a sound psychology is to distinguish between pheno- 
mena, which are creations of intent, and among which feelings 
appear when they are made objects of awareness, and feelings 
themselves, such as exist in us when we see or hear and are lost in 
the object which latter are states of the self, and no more self- 
transcendent in their own nature than nervous processes are; 
(3) that, since careful introspection reveals traces of spatiality 
in our feelings, these must be composed of parts, and may be 
composed of parts ad infinitum; (4) that these parts (like the 
nervous parts that reveal them to the eye) are active in their 
nature since feelings do in fact prompt to action and thus as 
truly forces as the existents in the physical world. I can accept 
Professor Montague's thesis that consciousness is the same thing 
as potential energy, if by "consciousness" be meant feelings 
divorced from awareness. 

Thus I share the view of Leibniz that the only point at which 
we have what amounts to intuition of real being, and are able 
truly to apprehend its nature, is in our introspective knowledge 
of ourselves. I do not, to be sure, agree with Leibniz that 
the characteristics we find real being to possess are perception 
and appetition, or that it consists of monads. I think that its 
characteristics are feeling and impulse, and that it consists of 
what he calls metaphysical points. Unscientific views of the 
mind inevitably led earlier philosophers to exalt its functions 
and unity, to the neglect of the simple elements on which these 
functions and this functional unity depend. 
Of late I have occupied myself again with the question that first 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 325 

attracted me the infinity of time and space in the endeavour 
to understand the nature of continuity. Logicians would perhaps 
have been more likely to reach sound views in this matter if they 
had considered first the continuity of time, and not allowed their 
analysis to be deflected by prior consideration of space. Time 
must be so conceived as to provide a real present. Philosophers 
have been singularly neglectful, I think, in not supplying us with 
a tenable account of this primary fact. They too often suppose 
that the present can be a little bit of duration. The most extrava- 
gant conclusions are drawn from this view as a premiss as that 
the past is equally real with the present, and the future, in com- 
parison with the past, wholly unreal. But every duration is com- 
posed of parts, which follow each other in succession, and cannot 
be the present together but only separately. It follows that no 
duration, however short, can be the present that the present 
can only be an instant. This was quite clear to Leibniz. 

But an instant, it will be replied, is a nothing of time, and can 
contain no reality. This is an error. It is a nothing only of duration, 
and can contain no change; but change is not reality it is the 
passage from one state of reality to another. Nothing ever exists 
but the states. Change is, in its essence, always either prospective 
or retrospective. 

There is no possible doubt as to the conclusion that must be 
drawn. Time is composed of instants. It is the infinite number of 
these that give to it duration. 

The parallel argument in regard to space shows it to be com- 
posed of points. Let me state this argument. Whatever exists 
must be somewhere. But every extension is a multiplicity of 
wheres; when you look into it, you find it to consist of parts ad 
infinitum. A simple where, a single place, must be one not con- 
sisting of parts and this can only be a point. 

What becomes, on this analysis, of the relations which join 
points into extension, instants into duration? 

Time and space are not existent frames that can be objectively 
without having anything in them: they are the most general 
orders in which existents are arranged. These existents reside 
in points, at instants. Change is the rearrangement of these meta- 



326 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

physical units (if units they be) occurring from instant to instant. 
It does not occur between the instants as it were, in an inter- 
vening time; the ultimate fact is the annihilation of one instant, 
or rather of the arrangement of units in it, and the immediate 
creation of another instant in which the units are differently 
arranged; which latter, because it is born out of the former, is the 
next instant. Thus there is something that lies deeper, or nearer 
to the substance of things, than time; and that is causality. 
Causality is the necessity, in reality existing at an instant, by 
which it gives birth to reality at the next instant. 

For the sake of simplicity I have spoken in the preceding of 
what exists in a point as a "unit." But, with the substitution of 
the conception of energy for that of matter, it becomes possible 
that what resides in a point at an instant is not a simple unit, 
but a variable amount of energy. The units of energy, if such 
there be, may not be impenetrable to each other. In this way 
"fields of force 1 ' with varying levels would arise. The physical 
world would not be either a plenum or a partial vacuum, but 
would be more or less full at different points and in different 
regions. Newton thought that the interstellar spaces were very 
full indeed, and "fed" the sun and the stars; this was his guess 
as to the cause of gravitation. Tension or intensity, if the 
present notion is correct, would be a fourth dimension in the 
instant, additional to the three spatial dimensions. This seems 
to permit an answer to the obvious objection to my doctrine of 
time as composed of instants, that the instant affords no room for 
velocity, acceleration, and momentum. These may exist in the 
instant in the form of the relative height of different waves, and 
the ultimate solution of physical problems may be furnished by 
wave-mechanics. 

Continuity, both temporal and spatial, depends, according to 
this analysis, on the causal relations by which adjacent reals 
co-operate to produce the redistribution of energy at the next 
instant. Energy is conserved, and there is therefore an identity 
of the energies in successive instants, at least as to quantity. 
It is important now to take note of the negative as well as 
of the positive side of continuity. The connection between 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 327 

adjoining portions of energy, by which they are able to co-operate 
and modify each other's position at the next instant, is balanced 
by a complete absence of connection between portions of energy 
at a distance from each other, and by a complete inability on 
their part to affect each other causally. All causal action proceeds 
by spatial and temporal continuity. Newton, Clerk Maxwell, and 
Einstein agree that there is no such thing as action at a distance. 

Moreover, the subdivision of energies is infinitely fine, and 
there is no place too small for action to proceed from it not 
even an inextended point. This enables us to admit a measure of 
truth in Leibniz's theory that space and time are subjective. If 
all action proceeds ultimately from points (though with more 
force from some points than from others), and if the only real 
connections in Nature are the causal relations by which the 
energies in adjacent points co-operate, either resisting or support- 
ing each other, then Nature is a continuum but not a whole. This 
is the essential thesis of my synechism. Space and time as wholes, 
and the lesser wholes consisting of portions of space and time or 
what is in them, are one and all made by the mind, in so far as 
it considers things together which in Nature are disconnected. 

The reader will now be able to perceive the true sense of my 
panpsychism. It is not the view that nothing exists but souls, 
nor is it the view that nothing exists but awareness; it is only the 
view that if energy were not in its own being soulful, or capable 
of awareness, no such things as minds could ever arise. This is 
only a revised materialism, if you like; at least, it is as near as 
I can come to the truth of things. 

Nor is it inconsistent with a belief in "spirit/' as the writings 
of Mr. Santayana show. Spirit is that supersensible function, 
dependent on sensation and behaviour, by which we contemplate 
the past and the future, the absent as well as the present, the 
feelings and acts of our fellow-men and likewise our own, and 
perceive (or are capable of perceiving) all things in their true 
relations. Spirit, as James says of consciousness, though non- 
existent as an entity, is very real as a function. And the relations 
it perceives may be not the less true because they are reached 
by summation of the immediate connections which alone are 



828 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

present in Nature. The unity of apprehension is a functional unity, 
arising through the use of feelings as signs, and not justifying the 
inference of existential unity in the self. No philosopher who 
understands the meanings of words can deny the reality and 
importance of spirit. Im Innern ist ein Universum auch. . . . 

What acts in us is not consciousness or awareness, which is 
only a mirroring of things external and internal, but the self, 
composed of feelings which (being identical in their substance 
with energy) are at the same time impulses. This makes it possible 
for a philosopher holding my views to be at once an interactionist 
and a parallelist. Parallelism is true, because the existent called 
self and its physical manifestation (to an anatomist looking on 
at the brain, or to you looking on at my body) never interact. 
Interactionism is true, because there is interaction between the 
self and the contiguous parts of the real world the physiological 
processes, first of all, surrounding the brain-process. And, further- 
more, even the much reprobated "conscious automaton theory" 
is true, since awareness is a supersensible relation, a function of 
intending and having to do with, which, not being an existent 
but only a function, is no more capable of producing physical 
effects than is my resemblance to my image in the glass. Yet, for 
all that, the self is efficacious. 

In the short span allotted me for reflection I have paid but 
little attention to the higher logical questions, and made no 
systematic study of ethics and religion, because I felt that the 
problem of perception and that of the relation of mind and body 
were more fundamental, and that one's solution of these must 
largely determine one's attitude on the great cosmic questions. 
I will only say, as regards these, that it seems to me plain matter 
of fact that Nature is morally indifferent caring not for our 
human goods and ills. On the other hand, of course Nature is far 
from tolerant of bad conduct ; and even ordinary men are aware 
that wisdom primary wisdom lies in correctly knowing Nature's 
laws. Philosophy therefore is still on the side of the angels when 
it endeavours to establish, on solid grounds, that Nature is real 
and knowable. 

The ground of morality, I am convinced, lies not in Nature 



CHARLES AUGUSTUS STRONG 329 

but in human nature. At most times we are but half awake 
failing to enter imaginatively and fully into the events about us, 
to read the feelings of other people, to foresee the consequences 
Df our own acts: in a word, to perceive our circumstances in their 
truth. But moments come when the veil is lifted, and the human 
drama stands before our inner vision with more completeness. 
Religion consists in living as nearly as possible in this sense of the 
reality of things. It is independent of any view as to the nature 
of the world. 

There is another, but not lower, wisdom which lies in 
correctly knowing the laws of human nature ; and if I had another 
life to live, I would gladly devote myself to acquiring more of 
this second kind of wisdom. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

Why the Mind has a Body (1903). 

the Origin of Consciousness (1918). 

The Wisdom of the Beasts (1921). 

A Theory of Knowledge (1923). 

Essays on the Natural Origin of the Mind (in preparation). 



WHAT I BELIEVE 

By JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 
lorn 1862; Professor of Philosophy, The University of Chicago, 



WHAT I BELIEVE 

MY generation has seen the passing of systems of thought which 
had reigned since Augustine. The conception of the world as 
a kingdom ruled by God, subject to his laws and their penalties, 
which had been undisturbed by the Protestant Reformation, has 
dissolved. We watch the process, but as yet are scarcely awake 
to its possible outcome. The sanctions of our inherited morality 
have gone. Principles and standards which had stood for nearly 
two thousand years are questioned. The process goes on among us 
in methods which are perhaps no less radical because they are not 
violent. In Russia the change is both radical and violent. It is 
seen at work in our great institutions of law, politics, business, 
industry, and philanthropy. To understand and interpret the 
origins of moral life and the complex relationships between moral 
ideas and the great social institutions has seemed to me a fascina- 
ting field of work. I began my work in philosophy with studies 
in its history. I changed to ethics because, as I came to gain a 
clearer view of the important tendencies of the time, I thought 
the ethical changes the most significant. 

I was born and received my early education in western Massa- 
chusetts. My ancestry along all its various lines, with the excep- 
tion of the paternal Tufts strain, had come to Massachusetts in 
the Puritan migration of 1630 or shortly afterwards. My great- 
great-grandfather, John Tufts, had come to western Massachusetts 
in the considerable company of Scotch-Irish about a hundred 
years later. One of the emigrant ancestors, the Reverend Ralph 
Wheelock, is said to have been enrolled in Clare College, Cambridge ; 
but with this exception all my ancestors in both lines were farmers 
until my grandfather, James Tufts, went to Brown University 
(then Providence College) as a preparation for the ministry, 
graduating in 1789; and my maternal grandfather fitted himself 
for the practice of medicine by attendance upon lectures in 
Dartmouth College. Both settled in a pioneer town of southern 
Vermont, high on the Green Mountains. My clerical ancestor 
remained in this, his first parish, until his death, and in accord 
with what seems to have been a not uncommon usage, was 



834 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

known as "Priest 11 Tufts through all the county, and indeed 
beyond. He was in his theology a follower of Nathaniel Emmons, 
with whom he had studied after graduation from college. It was 
a stern doctrine which he preached; yet for forty years he was 
a commanding influence as the spiritual ruler of the community. 
Very probably it was the ambition of the alert-planning mother, 
who was quite as influential in family decisions as the more 
formally educated father, that encouraged the second James 
Tufts, my father, to set out from home across the mountain, forty 
miles on foot, his outfit in a small satchel, to begin preparation 
for Yale College. My father never lost the atmosphere of this 
Green Mountain town in which the church was the centre and 
circumference of the community life, and in which no one thought 
of questioning the minister's declaration of the counsels of God. 
The Yale College of that day was a group of very serious young 
men, many of them expecting to enter the ministry. The atmo- 
sphere of the parsonage was repeated in New Haven and further 
found in Andover Theological Seminary, to which my father went 
from Yale. Sudden loss of voice prevented my father from preach- 
ing as he had intended, but he maintained throughout his long 
life his theological interest, and this was an element in the environ- 
ment of my early years. 

My father was fond of discussion. On week days the morning 
newspaper, on Sunday the subjects of the morning sermon were 
invariably discussed, and the boys of our family were expected to 
remember at least the minister's text and to state the principal 
"heads' 1 of the discourse. 

My mother was also an important influence in my education, 
although during the formative years of my childhood she was 
a nearly helpless invalid. She had received a good education 
according to the standards of that day for women, and had been 
a successful teacher previous to her marriage. She had inherited 
from both father and mother a refinement of spirit; her religious 
experience of conversion had given scope and purpose to her life. 
To meet her ambitions and standards was a goal to be striven for. 

My early education was of a somewhat irregular sort. After my 
father had remained for some years without definite occupation, 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 335 

owing to the loss of his voice, he was induced by his old college 
friend to become principal of one of the New England academies. 
After a few years he resigned from this position and took into his 
home a small number of boys for private instruction. Some of 
these boys were fitting for college, and my own preparation was 
hitched on somewhat casually to the work which chanced to be 
under way. If a boy came along who wished to begin algebra, I 
began or reviewed algebra, and when other boys began Latin or 
Greek, I formed one of the beginning class in that subject. My 
father was an excellent drill master, and I had thorough prepara- 
tion in the classics with a minimum of hours devoted to study. 
It was a relatively easy and enjoyable journey that I traversed 
through Caesar and Cicero and Virgil, Xenophon and Homer. 
At fourteen I had covered the ground prescribed for college 
entrance, although in many other lines my education was grossly 
deficient. 

Meanwhile, I was getting another sort of education for which 
I have always been thankful. My father's homestead included 
a small farm whose dairy and garden supplied the family table with 
a large share of what hungry boys ate and drank. The manual 
labour was in the charge of a capable hired man, but there seemed 
to be a large amount of work which was within the powers and 
duties of a boy. In the winter, the care of the cattle after the 
morning's milking; in the summer, the work of planting and 
haying and harvesting all offered strength and health and 
fellowship with other workers. From being a rather delicate young 
child I became well and strong. I acquired a constitution that 
knew little fatigue and seemingly no limits of endurance, during 
my years of study and early teaching. What was, perhaps, almost 
equally valuable was my acquaintance with the point of view of 
the man who works with his hands, and my ability to meet many 
sorts and conditions of men on common terms. During the four 
years after I had traversed the preparatory studies for admission 
to college, and before the actual date of my entrance upon my 
college course, I had read a considerable amount of history, had 
reviewed and extended my reading of the classics, and had 
(unwisely) taught a district school for two years. I had also 



886 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

become a member of the Congregational Church. So far as I can 
recall, I accepted even the somewhat comprehensive creed. While 
I do not think that doctrines relating to the future life occupied 
relatively a large part in actual worship and preaching, I presume 
that if asked I should have given them assent. At eighteen I 
entered college and a new stage of my intellectual life began. 

The New England college of those days has now completely 
vanished. The curriculum, indeed, had been partially liberalized 
by the introduction of a considerable number of elective courses. 
But the spirit of the college remained much as it had been in the 
days of its founders, sixty years earlier. We studied the Classics, 
mathematics, the basal natural sciences, the modern languages 
and literatures. In the senior year, all students had the course in 
philosophy. But the outstanding feature of the college, as I now 
picture its atmosphere and its influence, was the religious serious- 
ness. The impressive figure of President Seelye made morning 
chapel and Sunday church service the most characteristic exer- 
cises of the week. I elected typical courses in language, literature, 
natural science, and philosophy. Professor Garman began his work 
as teacher in our freshman year, as our instructor in mathematics. 
In our senior year he taught us philosophy, but he had not yet 
worked out the course which gave him such a conspicuous 
position among American teachers of philosophy. Yet even so, 
his sympathetic grasp of the undergraduates' somewhat bewil- 
dered state of mind in traversing Hickok's texts and his illumina- 
tion of the deeper issues in religion and society left a leaven at 
work. 

A conviction of the influence of ideas was one of the chief 
reasons for the selection of a career. The atmosphere of my home 
was almost compelling. I recall vividly my mother's report of 
a conversation which she had with the mother of a classmate at 
the time of my graduation from college. The two mothers were 
comparing notes as to the plans and prospects of their sons. The 
mother of the classmate said, "I don't know what X will do, but 
his mind is filled with plans for making money." She spoke in a 
tone of disappointment, and my mother repeated the conversation 
as though such disappointment was the most natural thing in 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 387 

the world. For women of their antecedents some professional 
career was the only thinkable line of work. I had never discussed 
seriously the question of a career, but my own interest in this 
case coincided with the expectations of my parents. My father, 
although he had himself expected to enter the ministry, until 
loss of health compelled him to change to the allied profession of 
teaching, was more scrupulous than might have been expected 
in attempting to influence my choice, although I knew he would 
be greatly disappointed if I did not choose a career which had 
in it the opportunity for useful work of some sort. In the Amherst 
College of the 'eighties a transition was in progress. Until that 
period a large proportion of the able students among the graduates 
had entered the ministry. In the 'eighties and 'nineties the pro- 
fession of college or university teacher began to be increasingly 
effective. President Seelye and Professor Carman did much to 
encourage this tendency. President Seelye spoke frequently and 
with pride of the numbers of Amherst men upon the faculty of 
Columbia and of the recently organized Johns Hopkins. It was 
the conviction of President Seelye and Professor Garman that in 
the days of transition in religious and political views which was 
then in progress, the opportunity of the thoroughly trained 
teacher was greatest of all. He seemed to embody in concrete 
form the power of ideas. It was hard for one who had passed four 
years in the study of ideas and their relationships to life and 
institutions to think in any other terms than in those of the 
opportunity for influence thus afforded. Reports reached us, 
through Carman's course, of new industrial organizations, of the 
beginnings of the struggle of the Government with corporate 
wealth. But to all except a few of the students of the college these 
reports seemed to be from a world which did not concern us. If 
we took them seriously we thought of our function in society as 
that of understanding and discussing rather than of actually 
plunging into the world of affairs. At any rate, to understand what 
was going on and to teach young people seemed to many of us 
at that time one of the genuinely worth-while lines of effort. 

Two years spent in the college as an instructor in mathematics 
helped to define my problem further. I was still somewhat hesitant 

VOL. II Y 



888 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

between teaching philosophy, as advised by President Seelye and 
Professor Garman on the one hand, and entering the ministry. 
During my college course I had taken an active part in student 
activities from football to debating. I enjoyed speaking to an 
audience, and thought it probable that the executive opportunities 
in the ministry might appeal to my interests in that direction. I 
entered Yale Divinity School with the question still undecided, 
and divided my time nearly equally between the divinity course, 
on the one hand, and studies in philosophy with Professor Ladd 
and anthropology under William G. Sumner on the other. It was 
an invitation from President Angell to become an instructor in 
the University of Michigan, coming in the summer after my 
graduation from the Divinity School, which was the decisive 
factor in my career. Henceforward I gave myself to the life of the 
scholar, although at intervals I have taken on administrative 
work as Dean of the Colleges; and when in 1925 President Burton, 
of the University of Chicago, felt the need of assistance in his large 
plans for a new creative epoch/ I found a fascinating though 
extremely difficult field in the office of Vice-President. 

The University of Michigan in 1889 was a stimulating place, 
President Angell was surrounded by a faculty comprising some 
of the older generation, and some men fresh from Johns Hopkins 
and other schools of graduate work. Many who have since 
achieved the highest eminence in their fields were then on the 
staff. The University was undoubtedly the most active centre of 
research west of the Alleghanies. Professor Dewey had already 
made himself known by his Psychology and his Leibniz. The 
tradition of philosophy, as this had been built by Professor George 
Morris, was that of a commanding and enriching subject. The 
ablest students elected it. A young instructor could have had no 
more favourable conditions. 

But at Yale I had studied with Professor W. R. Harper and had 
been greatly impressed by his tireless energy and far-reaching 
ideas. When, therefore, he invited me to join the faculty which 
he was assembling for the new University of Chicago I reluctantly 
decided to leave my attractive position at Ann Arbor and to cast 
in my lot with the new enterprise. Believing that study in Europe 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 339 

would be important for effective work in the new institution, I 
spent a year at Berlin and Freiburg, taking my doctor's degree at 
the latter university under Aloys Riehl with a thesis upon Kant's 
Teleology. My years of academic training had reached an end. I 
was eager to join the body of scholars which assembled on Octo- 
ber i, 1892, and with the exception of the year 1920-21, spent as 
visiting professor in Columbia University, I have continued in 
my position in the University of Chicago. 

vStimulating and absorbing as it was to take part in the making 
of a new university, I can now see that this was, perhaps, less 
crucial for my development in the long run than the contacts 
with the City of Chicago, and the challenge to all my previous 
philosophy which the unaccustomed conflicts of forces presented. 
At the outset I devoted myself to the history of philosophy, and 
during the first year translated Windelband's History. But I 
began almost from the first to feel the impact of an environment 
very different from that of my New England scheme of the 
political and economic order. On the one hand, Chicago was then, 
and continued to be, a city of power. The centre of marketing, 
transportation, finance, for the great Middle West, it had been a 
school for forceful leaders. In the building of vast industries, of 
establishments for wholesale and retail trade, and of substantial 
banking organizations, it was a city of opportunity. It was a city 
still in the making, and with ambitions not limited by ordinary 
bounds. The beauty of its World's Fair augured well for its future 
support of a university. 

Power and the attitude of brooking no resistance to great plans 
gave rise in some cases to a disposition which, if not arrogant, was 
at any rate little disposed to submit to restraint or dictation from 
any opposing body of opinion, whether from labour unions, or 
from politicians, or from courts. Least of all, perhaps, was it 
inclined to seek wisdom from academic opinion or social reformer. 
The tendency was rather toward fighting out controversies than 
toward compromise. The contrast between dwellings upon the 
Lake front and those back of the Yards, or in South Chicago, 
evidenced the sharp division of wealth from poverty. 

What place could the University be expected to fill in such a 



340 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

turbulent, swift-moving stream? Would the City dominate the 
University? Would the University in time supply new interests 
and contribute toward new standards of individual and civic 
life ? Coming closer to my own field, the many threads which had 
been thus far weaving no definite pattern beyond that of the 
traditional systems and methods seemed gradually to fit into an 
order which for me, at least, was a new structure. The making ot 
ideas and the reaction of ideas upon the forming and reforming of 
moral and civic trends became a focus of attention. 

Ethics must begin by understanding our ethical conceptions. 
It came home to me that these could not be adequately under- 
stood by purely intellectual analysis. Justice, I found, meant 
different things to different persons and different groups. Perhaps 
similar ambiguities lurked beneath other concepts. I determined 
to ask whether history would throw any light upon their formation. 
I was not definitely challenging Lotze's distinction between origin 
and validity. In fact, I had been taken by it when I had first heard 
it applied to the field of religion. Rather I was following a line 
which had always been fascinating to me and which had been 
strongly reinforced by my studies in anthropology and folkways 
under Professor William G. Sumner. But as time went on I came 
incidentally upon difference in ethical premises, in what we 
like to think of as our common morality, which could apparently 
be accounted for only by the attitudes of mind begotten by status 
or occupation. I found myself impelled in the direction of the 
thesis : (i) Moral ideas are shaped under the influence of economic, 
social, and religious forces; (2) and ideas in turn do not remain as 
objects of contemplation or scientific analysis only, but become 
patterns for action, emerging, it may be, in a Russian revolution. 

Opportunities for more specific testing of both phases of the 
above thesis were not wanting. For example, I found myself 
Chairman of a committee of the social agencies of the City, which 
had been appointed to keep track of all legislation, proposed or 
enacted, that might concern the civic, philanthropic, and pro- 
tective work of these agencies. We framed a number of bills, 
some of which passed the legislature and became laws. The subse- 
quent fate of a proposal for providing health insurance by the 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 341 

State was very instructive. A commission was authorized for the 
investigation of the proposal, a competent expert was engaged, 
and an excellent study made, but the report which came from the 
committee to the legislature bore no relation to the data of the 
experts' inquiry. The combined opposition of labour unionists, 
physicians, and those opposed to any new and unusual plan 
killed the measure. It is not easy to pass a law which is likely to 
interfere with a vested interest. 

My closest contact was made possible through an invitation 
to act as Chairman of the Board of Arbitration in the Hart 
Schaffner & Marx clothing industry a responsibility which later 
came to cover the clothing industry in Chicago. It was of the 
essence of this function that the arbitration was a continuous 
process. The Board was like a court in that it recorded all its 
decisions and followed precedents if these seemed to be the best 
ways of meeting changing situations, but differed from a court in 
having no necessary rules except those jointly agreed upon by 
the firm and the union. As the Board of Arbitration met, not as is 
frequently the case in arbitration proceedings, to settle a particu- 
lar strike, but rather as a permanent body to make a substitution 
of reason for force and determine such policies as would promote 
peace and efficiency in the industry, the conditions called for 
adjustment, not on the basis of compromise, but rather on the 
basis of finding, so far as is humanly possible, what was the right 
thing and what would give permanent satisfaction. 

I served for two years in this work and found it very difficult, 
but also very much worth while. For nearly every moral principle 
which I had been reaching by study of industry from the outside 
was called upon in the settlement of the questions which were 
presented to the Board. Fortunately, my predecessor had laid 
well the foundations for subsequent procedure, but every contest 
for appeal tested the method which I had been following. I 
repeatedly found that to know the whole history of the situation 
put a controversy in a different light. I learned at first hand how 
certain of our basal conceptions are affected by origins. 

The thesis that moral ideas are subtly coloured or infected by 
particular circumstances is opposed to the doctrine that such 



342 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

ideas are independent of time and place and human bias; that 
right is right, and may be discovered and fixed by rational intui- 
tion unaided and unaffected by feeling or non-rational factors. 
In the study of this thesis, I had been particularly struck with 
the obvious derivation of many moral concepts from class dis- 
tinctions. "Honour," "nobility/ 1 are obviously the qualities 
required or found in a superior class; "mean" and "villain" are 
correlates. The military class, the sporting class, the trading class, 
the working class, each has its term of class approval, and some 
of these ultimately get recognition as good ethical concepts. But 
with some of the fundamental ethical concepts, the subtle influence 
of class is less commonly recognized. Let us examine certain 
influences that work in fixing the meaning of honesty and justice. 
These are conceptions which Sidgwick treats as lacking in clear- 
ness and certainty, when used by common sense. 

One day, as Chairman of the Board of Arbitration in a local 
industry, I had been listening to a rather severe complaint on the 
part of the management. The charge was made that in a certain 
workroom the standard of efficiency was low. The particular 
part of the manufacturing process which was performed in this 
room had not been placed upon a piece-work basis, nor yet had 
it been so thoroughly standardized as to give a fairly accurate 
measure of the work of each man. It was claimed by the manage- 
ment that some of the workers took advantage of the situation 
and shirked or slacked. "We pay a fair wage; these men do not 
give a fair day's work in return; they are not honest." Whereupon 
one of the workers' representatives, not so much in reply to the 
charge as in genuine uncertainty, exclaimed half under his breath, 
"What is 'honest'?" I thus had forcibly presented the doubt of 
the worker as to the standard employed. For when one considers 
the process of gradual speeding up which has been the accompani- 
ment of constantly improved machinery and constant division 
of labour, one is forced to recall that the wage cost per hour of 
product has greatly diminished, while the wage, although increas- 
ing, has often increased far less than the total gain from improved 
processes would seem to warrant. How can we determine what 
would be the honest share of labour in the increased efficiency 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 348 

of the machine process ? Should all the profit go to the manu- 
facturer, or should a part go to the workman ? And if the latter, 
then how much will be an honest share? Can we say that the 
bargaining of the market will yield a standard of division which 
can claim moral sanction, or are we forced to say that if the 
standard is set purely by the market, then the amount of labour 
given in return should be set likewise by a purely market pace ? 
In other words, honesty under such circumstances is no longer 
an unambiguously moral conception. 

A slightly different aspect of the ambiguity in the conception 
of honesty is presented by the so-called double-standard of 
business and industry. The workman in industry is expected to 
perform some service and to receive a wage which represents as 
nearly as can be determined a fair payment therefor. But in 
many business transactions the only limit of profit is what you 
can get. The successful business man is he who can reap the largest 
profit with the least expenditure of effort. It is, of course, not 
unknown to the worker that profit is justified on the basis of risk 
which is a feature of speculation. Nevertheless the obstinate fact 
remains that in many specific cases huge profits are the result 
of accident, or of sudden demands for real estate, or to general 
business trends, and do not imply any useful service on the part 
of the man who profits. The less expenditure in time and effort 
which he makes the greater the praise for his shrewdness and 
business capacity. Certainly it is somewhat awkward to have 
these two standards side by side, especially since it has been 
customary to shift a considerable part of risk to the shoulders of 
employees by reducing the force when times are slack. 

Conceptions of justice afford a peculiarly complex example of 
the mingling of rational and non-rational factors. Justice, together 
with its allied conceptions of what is fair, or equitable, or reason- 
able, may plausibly claim to be a conception reached by rational 
analysis. It seems to disclaim any sociological, or economic, or 
political warping. The appeal of the Hebrew prophet to do justly, 
no less than the philosophic conception of the Roman Jurisconsult, 
to live honourably, to injure none, and to give every man his own, 
or the principles of natural law laid down by Blackstone, may 



344 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

plausibly claim to be a fixed standard. From the prophetic revival 
in ancient Egypt unto the present day the scales have been the 
symbol of justice, and the cry of the "eloquent peasant": "Can 
the scales weigh falsely? 11 seems to deserve but one answer. 
Nevertheless to one who traces the history of the concept in law 
and morals two strands are evident: on the one hand justice seeks 
equality through its principle of equality before the law; on the 
other it is tender to vested interests or existing status; on the one 
hand it magnifies permanence and fixity ; on the other it leans 
toward giving some place for change; on the one hand it is the 
ideal of reason; on the other it is the decree of authority. And 
according as this authority takes the form of precedent or that 
of the will of the sovereign or of the people, we have the basis for 
the divided attitude of our poets and the divided conceptions of 
justice which prevail among our different social classes. Or if we 
take the mode of defining justice which conceives it as securing 
and protecting rights, we have still more apparent the influence 
of class and status. To the property-owning class, rights of 
property seem fundamental to the established order and good of 
society. On the other hand, the alleged right of a workman to his 
job seems a fantastic and fully unjustifiable claim. And a second 
article in the creed of Union labour, 'Thou shalt not take a fellow- 
workman's job," is likewise incomprehensible to an employer, 
for whom labour is a commodity to be bought and sold in the 
open market as is any other unit necessary for production. The 
thinking of the workman naturally starts from what seems to him 
the most fundamental of all rights namely, the right to live. 
How can one live unless he can get a living ? And how can he get 
a living except as he has a job? And to the man who knows but 
one craft, what job can he claim if not the one which he has 
learned and practised ? 

To the employer, on the other hand, especially if he has built up 
a business largely through his own organizing ability, the work- 
man has no claims beyond the close of the day or week or month 
for which he is hired. There may be a place for kindness to the 
workman who is ill, but there is no requirement of justice. 

A head-on collision between conceptions of justice is presented 



JAMES IIAYDEN TUFTS 345 

by recent controversy between mine-owners and miners. In the 
Hitchman cases the mine-owner required the applicant for a job 
to sign a contract by which he agrees not to join any labour union 
while working for the company. On the basis of prohibiting inter- 
ference with these contracts, the Miners' Union is en joined by the 
court from inducing or persuading any of the contracting miners 
to join the union. 

Here, then, is a conflict of fundamental rights which to each 
party respectively appear absolute. The workman regards the 
contracts, the signing of which is a necessary condition of getting 
a job, as depriving him of his natural rights to combine with 
others in order to improve his conditions. If he is deprived of all 
help from association, what is left to him ? The fact that he has 
signed a contract does not, in his view, alter the main fact, viz. 
that he has signed away his one phase of freedom which was most 
important to him. On the other hand, the mine-owner conceives 
the business as his business and his property. In his view the 
union is an outside organization which is interfering with the 
conduct of his business. He does not ask anyone to work for him. 
He accepts men who apply. He requires a contract which prevents 
them from joining a union, but he places no coercion upon any 
man to compel him to sign this contract. The right of property 
and the right to combine are here in flat contradiction. Which set 
of rights is favoured by courts will evidently depend upon which, 
in the opinion of the court, are most important to preserve. 

In other words, justice is in certain hard cases dependent upon 
the standard set by the court. 

The theory is, of course, that the courts decide cases according 
to law and not according to bias. No doubt this is true in many 
types of cases, but in the cases which involve fundamental con- 
ceptions, where it is often the decision of the court that will make 
the law and not vice versa, we see the complex influences at work. 

The conclusive evidence that the judges are expected to make 
the law in a given direction is seen in the weight attached in a 
presidential campaign to the appointing power of the President. 
When a strong argument for the election of a given candidate 
for the presidency is found in the probability that he will appoint 



346 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

safe or radical members of the court, no further evidence is needed 
that the Supreme Court is expected to follow the elections. 

The logic which underlies such facts as we have quoted is 
highly instructive for the procedure in pronouncing judgments 
in new situations. On the one hand, we attack a situation, bringing 
to bear previous judgments, which have been more or less con- 
solidated into a rule. But the new situation presents stubborn 
facts which are not easily brought under the rule. To abide by the 
rule as a definite standard satisfies one demand; it yields the 
formula for equality of treatment which is certainly one of the 
factors in justice. But as Professor Pound has so clearly shown, 
the opposing demand is equally strong, viz. that we should not 
be influenced by abstract reasoning in such fashion as to lead us 
to ignore the actual circumstances of the specific case. "General 
propositions/' says Mr. Justice Holmes, in his famous dissenting 
opinion in the case of Lochner v. New York, "do not determine 
concrete cases." The logic of the whole process of idea formation 
and reconstruction could scarcely be better suggested than by 
the above statement and its implication. 

The uncertainty which Sidgwick found in the concept of justice 
as it functions in the morality of common sense is not surprising 
when we consider the origins and developments of court rulings. 
The standard will swing this way or that according as influences 
of class, or profession, or individual temperament come in to 
decide which rights ought to prevail. 

If, now, it be asked what effect this habitual mode of see- 
ing problems in their concrete and institutional settings has 
had upon my attitude toward the great historical problems of 
philosophy, I think I should answer somewhat as follows: I had 
been easily persuaded by the many arguments by which Plato 
endeavoured to prove that pleasure could not be considered as 
the only good. A health of the soul, a life guided by reason, and 
fulfilling a function in society, a balanced or measured life in 
which thought and feeling, intelligence and pure pleasures, should 
all have a place this seemed and still seems a fair picture. It 
appeals to the young, it has a permanent message for each new 
generation. 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 347 

Nevertheless the picture does not include the greater issues 
of our day. To interpret these Kant had projected his concepts 
of duty, universal law, worth of personality, freedom through 
autonomy. It was an interpretation which sought to include the 
sacredness of the Hebrew-Christian divine law to which had been 
added the rational basis of the Stoic-Roman conception of law of 
nature. When the authority of this universal law was transferred 
from external power to the legislative self, and when such a self 
was declared to have ultimate worth, it might appear that Kant 
summed up the twofold outcome of the process which culminated 
in the American and French Revolutions. At least, it presented an 
approach to a moral problem which had a fair claim to be set 
beside the Greek picture. 

As I sought to adjust these two rival systems, centering respec- 
tively in the concepts of the good and of right and duty, I thought 
I found in my genetic studies a more valuable clue to the problem 
as to which concept should be taken as primary and which made 
subordinate, than an attempt to solve the problem by analysis. 
For if we look at the origins of these ideas we find they are distinct. 
The idea of good is the correlate of desire. It finds its birth in a 
civilization in which values of various kinds economic, political, 
religious, aesthetic are present; in which wealth, power, delight 
of sense, or imagination, at once stimulate and satisfy. Wherever, 
through competition and comparison, the various impulses and 
suggested objects of desire, which give promise of satisfying some 
urge or interest, come into a field of intelligent choice, choice that 
involves in the last analysis the determination of a new self at 
the same time with the preference of the object, we have the 
category of the good emerging. 

The categories of right and duty belong rather to a world of 
personal relations. Both right and duty speak the language of 
a principle emerging with the dawning consciousness of person- 
alities in relationship to one another, of a social order which speaks 
of both permanence and change. It is not strange that a culture, 
such as that of Greece, made the conception of good central. It 
was not strange that the interpreter of religion, law, and freedom, 
should make the conceptions of right and duty fundamental. 



348 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

But the great ethical question of to-day is not precisely that 
of Plato, nor that of Kant. It is the question of the ethical prin- 
ciples which are now on trial in our social-economic-political 
system. It is not a question of imagining a perfect state laid up 
in heaven, but rather of watching the forces and ideas at work in 
the societies of America, of Europe, and in the not distant future 
of Asia. If anything was needed to sharpen our interest, Russia 
has supplied the lack. Capitalism and communism stand over 
against each other, while Facism holds itself proudly above both. 

Capitalism, as interpreted by Adam Smith, combines three 
ethical principles. It was based on freedom freedom to do what 
one likes; freedom to control one's own property; freedom to buy 
and sell and exchange as one pleases; freedom to adjust prices 
by bargaining rather than have them adjusted by guild or 
government. It was opposed to the medieval doctrine of status. 
Such a doctrine was welcomed in Europe, but it seemed even 
more at home in America, for it had no vested rights to fetter it. 

In the second place, capitalism made strong appeal to self- 
interest. The natural right of property, or of the pursuit of happi- 
ness, seemed already to put the individual into the centre of his 
world of affairs. Adam Smith held that a man could look after 
his own affairs better than another. If each man could look 
forward to profit from his activity he would have the strongest 
motive to production. The whole motivation of capitalism has its 
focus in self-interest. In other words, capitalism rests for its 
second support upon egoism. 

In the third place, however, the egoism of capitalism is har- 
monized with the universal and democratic principle of utilitarian- 
ism. If everyone sought his own good, he would contribute in 
the most effective way toward the happiness of all. Certainly a 
system which could combine egoism with general welfare, free- 
dom with equality, might claim to be the work of divine wisdom 
and divine benevolence as Smith declared. But as the system 
developed in full force, as it employed not merely the new forces 
of steam and machines, but the co-operation of great numbers 
of men, the accumulation of credit, the control over transporta- 
tion, the fixing of prices, it created huge organizations of capital 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 349 

and threatened complete control over the laws of debt and credit, 
of supply and demand, of price and valuation. On the one hand, 
the power of wealth with its extraordinary inequality of distribu- 
tion, on the other, the power of the people expressed through 
legislation. On the one hand, the masters of our economic life, 
selected by the competition of the market; on the other hand, 
the masters of our political life, selected by votes. It is a conflict 
upon a grand scale. On the one hand, capitalism is immensely 
profitable; it makes possible a general level of comfort such as had 
not been known before. On the other hand, is it not probable 
that to rely upon egoism as the great motive for the world's work 
is to foster a certain hardness of temper on the part of masters of 
industry, and to make material wealth the highest value in the 
scheme of life? I fear that it is. I believe that we have, on the 
whole, reason to be content with our culture and civilization in 
proportion as we have found a balance for the naked principle of 
capitalism. This balance is found, not so much in the attempted 
legislative control of trusts and monopolies, of huge fortunes, 
of railroads and banks, as in the policy of public education for 
all children and young people, which has become increasingly the 
pride and the serious enterprise of American life. The equality 
of opportunity, which is afforded in education, stands over against 
the inequality of property and income, and is in the long run 
likely to be at least equally significant for liberty of soul. 

Capitalism is on trial as to its ability to secure decent living 
conditions for all members of society. It is worth while to have an 
experiment which seeks to make sure of a minimum of necessities 
for all its citizens. Brutal as the rule of the Bolshevik has been in 
its methods of control, it has one principle which it may be well 
for the world to see tried under fair terms. The principle that all 
should share in at least the necessities is worth trying. At any 
rate, it is likely to have a considerable trial. The philosopher may 
be permitted to watch it, although he may expect in some quarters 
condemnation for his temerity. When the great world conducts a 
gigantic experiment, the philosopher may at least watch and 
learn. 

My experience in college teaching, which will complete its 



850 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

fortieth year this coming spring, has been highly fortunate in the 
contacts which I have made with young men and young women. 
Very few of them, so far as I have been able to follow their careers, 
have failed to be useful men and women, and many of them have 
become distinguished in the world of scholarship and the world of 
affairs. I differ strongly from the opinion of many writers upon 
educational subjects who condemn our American system of college 
education and would confine the work of universities to graduate 
and professional schools, and who regret the increased tendency 
on the part of young people to seek a college education. 

With the highest respect for men in the professions, they are 
not, on the whole, the most influential members of the common- 
wealth. If the college and the university fail to give education to 
the men of affairs who are the strongest power in American life, 
they are missing a great opportunity and forsaking a trust. With 
all due respect to the importance of devoting time and funds to 
research, through which the causes of natural and social processes 
can be brought to light, it may be questioned whether any process 
is more important than the process of education, and whether col- 
lege and university can afford to omit from their programme the 
education of those who are probably for some generations still to 
come likely to be the leaders in the commonwealth. It may well 
be that a different college system may give better results than 
the apparently wasteful methods now in vogue. It seems that our 
colleges, like our cities, have outgrown the village form of organiza- 
tion and government which gives rise to grossly defective adminis- 
tration. Yet it ought to be possible to maintain for college students 
the ideals of scholarship and the union of freedom with responsi- 
bility which have marked our best institutions. Having taught in 
an endowed small college for men, in a co-educational state uni- 
versity, and finally for most of my life in an endowed university 
in which research has been a prominent feature, I believe that the 
small college will continue to have a place in education; that the 
State universities in the greater states will probably be forced 
to divide their numbers in some fashion, especially their under- 
graduates, or else find in the organization of junior colleges a 
measure of relief; and that endowed universities may wisely 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 351 

experiment along a variety of types of organization, but will, in 
my judgment, make a mistake if they disclaim all interest in the 
education of men of affairs. At present, one of the most serious 
questions is the somewhat mediocre type of student who presents 
himself for graduate work. It is a common complaint that numbers 
of candidates for the master's degree are increasing in quantity 
without any corresponding improvement in quality, and that 
even a considerable proportion of those who receive the doctor's 
degree prove unable or disinclined to carry on scholarly produc- 
tion after their doctor's thesis. In other words, the calibre of those 
who are candidates for positions as college and university teachers 
is by no means what is to be desired, if American scholarship is 
to occupy an appropriate place in the field of world scholarship. 

So much concerning the general problem of education I have 
ventured to put forth as an article of faith to which I have come 
to subscribe during my administrative experience as Dean and 
Vice-President. 

Thus far my more reasoned beliefs. I add certain reflections 
perhaps they do not merit the term beliefs which have a place 
in my total attitude. These concern art and religion. 

My early life was not particularly adapted to cultivate a taste 
for art. A country village provided no art except music, and 
Amherst in the 'eighties, although one of the world's choice places 
for its natural beauty, offered likewise meagre opportunities in 
the Fine Arts other than literature. Yet in this college period two 
windows were opened which have never ceased to afford calm 
and refreshment namely, Greek tragedy and modern literature, 
especially English and German. Travel has enabled me to enter into 
the ideals and constructions of Western Europe, and I have found 
much material for instruction and appreciation in the cultures 
and products of our American Indians. I have found in the teach- 
ing of aesthetics to successive classes of young people an oppor- 
tunity to afford some aid in appreciating both natural beauty 
and the forms through which the human spirit has found expres- 
sion. I believe strongly that our young people need in their lives 
at just the college age the control and poise and sublimation which 



352 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

are found in the best types of art and literature. I have found 
interest and satisfaction in aiding them to see nature and art and 
to listen to music with more intelligent appreciation, and to 
recognize that the values of life are not exhausted by knowing 
and doing. I look at the decorations, patterned from the lotus 
flower, which beautify many of our buildings, and wonder whether 
anything which we are now thinking or doing or creating will last 
five thousand years and find itself as perennially a source of joy. 
I believe that it helps to give students a juster view of the worth 
of different cultures and the capacities of other peoples, to become 
familiar with the patterns which these folk of past ages and wide 
areas of earth have devised. To follow sympathetically the expres- 
sions of beauty, to be lifted by the sublime, to confront calamity 
and catastrophe with tragic depth of comprehension, and to look 
upon all human efforts and good or ill fortune with the sympathy 
and detachment of friendly good humour all this belongs to the 
philosophy of life. 

I began this sketch with a reference to the changes in religious 
doctrines which I have seen and in a sense felt to be vital. The 
religious community of to-day is beginning to be aware of the 
gap between the facts which early religion sought to interpret 
and the symbolism which was used in this effort at interpretation. 
But no new symbolism has yet proved adequate to embody the 
profounder experiences which religion has included. Liberally 
minded members of the great community are seeking new imagery, 
but to find an imagery for spiritual needs and values, comparable 
in power and tenderness with the symbolism of the ages, is not 
easy. Meanwhile, those for whom religion is a spirit rather than a 
doctrine may at least find themselves united in the desire to 
bring about a better order in human society, and as such may feel, 
if they cannot know, a unity with whatever makes for good. 

More than most, perhaps, who have aimed to think through 
these problems honestly, I have continued a relationship with the 
Church, for I have considered the common purpose and the 
common feeling more important than the credo. The Church has, 
on the whole, and in spite of its failures, borne witness to the exist- 



JAMES HAYDEN TUFTS 353 

encc of other than material aims. How the future will meet the 
change in symbolism and preserve the spirit which has declared 
the abiding values to be faith, hope, and love, I am content to 
leave for coming generations to disclose. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

Windelband's History of Philosophy (Translator and Editor). New 

York. Macmillan, 1893, 1901. 

Ethics (jointly with John Dewey). New York. Henry Holt, 1908. 
The Ethics of Co-operation. Boston. Houghton Miflin, 1917. 
"The Moral Life and the Creation of Values and Standards," in 

Creative Intelligence. New York. Henry Holt, 1917, pp. 354-408. 
The Real Business of Living. New York. Henry Holt, 1918. 
Education and Training for Social Work. New York. The Russell Sago 

Foundation, 1923. 



VOL. II 



METAPHYSICS AND VALUE 



By WILBUR M. URBAN 

Bora 1873 ; Stone Professor of Philosophy in Dartmouth College, 
Hanover, New Hampshire. 



BIOGRAPHICAL 

I WAS born in 1873, the son of Rev. A. L. Urban, a clergyman 
of the Protestant Episcopal Church, from whose essentially philo- 
sophical and mystical mind I received most of my philosophical 
interests and impulses. I was educated at the William Penn Charter 
School, Philadelphia, and at Princeton University, receiving from 
the latter the A.B. degree in 1895, In the same year I was appointed 
Chancellor Green Fellow in Mental Science at Princeton. I studied 
at different times in the Universities of Jena, Leipzig, Munich, and 
Graz, passing the examinations for the doctorate at Leipzig in 1897. 



METAPHYSICS AND VALUE 

I 

ANY man's apologia pro sua vita has its own interest often as 
we have come to feel in this age of human documents, the more 
insignificant the life, the more significant the apology. This is 
perhaps all the more true in the life of thought. All serious 
thought, however inept and however limited, has not only its 
own little dignity, but also, perhaps, its own claim, however slight, 
to the interest of one's fellow-thinkers. It is only on some such 
assumption as this that I have dared to accept the invitation 
of the Committee to write "an intellectual autobiography, in 
which the psychological causes as well as the logical reasons" 
for my "philosophical creed" are set forth. It is only because I 
believe that the way my own thought has gone in the last quarter- 
century may throw some light on the problems of this interesting 
epoch that I feel at all justified in displaying it. 1 

I cannot but envy those who are studying philosophy for the 
first time at the present moment. It was my own evil fortune 
to begin that fascinating study in what was in some respects 
the most unphilosophical atmosphere the world has ever seen 
that period of scientific positivism that began about 1850 and 
lasted on into the twentieth century. It was necessary historically 
that the offence should come, but it was rather unfortunate 
for those of us who had to suffer the offence. I do not mean, of 
course, that there were not strong influences working in the 
opposite direction. In my own case, for instance, under the 
teaching of such men as A. T. Ormond at Princeton and later 
Rudolf Eucken at Jena, I learned the significance of the great 
speculative systems. In my heart I knew that they were right, 
but the form of presentation was somehow not such as appealed to 

1 The request for a statement of my philosophical creed at this time is 
in my case singularly inopportune, for the reason that much that I should 
like to presuppose in this statement has only recently appeared in a book 
that represents the thought of a decade or more. This book, entitled The 
Intelligible World: Metaphysics and Value t is from the press of George 
Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London, 



858 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

me at that time. The chief sources of my inspiration came rather 
from J. M. Baldwin at Princeton, with his genetic psychology 
and evolutionary naturalism; from OttoLiebmann at Jena, with 
his cry "back to Kant" ; and later from Wundt (in whose labora- 
tory I worked in Leipzig), with his ideal of scientific method in 
philosophy. In the anti-metaphysical atmosphere which then 
prevailed it was only natural that we felt it to be almost a sacred 
duty to suppress all the spiritual initiatives, all the natural 
metaphysics of the human soul, and the intellectual and moral 
scars left by these inhibitions will probably never be completely 
removed. 

This was all the more unfortunate for me in that, although 
I did not know it fully then, I am one of those whom Metaphysik 
allein macht selig. As a youth I could apparently have devoted 
myself with equal pleasure to literature, religion, or philosophy. 
As I look back now, I can see what it was that drove me on to 
philosophy that metaphysical instinct which, in one aspect at 
least, is only the highest sublimation of the will to live. Philo- 
sophy, metaphysic what you will is for me life itself, or at 
least the interpretation of the meaning of life. How bring the 
light of thought to play upon this meaning without, so to speak, 
drying it up, without turning it into the desiccated preparations 
of theory? How understand the meaning of life without turning 
it into that which it is not ? How shall philosophy remain know- 
ledge without being subject to all the prejudices and limitations 
of the theoretical point of view? In these few sentences is ex- 
pressed, I think, all that needs to be stated specifically about 
the psychological motives, as well as the philosophical ideals, 
that have determined all my thinking. 

II 

For convenience, I shall date my self-conscious purposive 
thinking from the summer of 1897. It happened at that time 
in the second year of my graduate study in Germany that I 
came upon, almost simultaneously, two books, the ideas of which 
were, by a kind of chemical combination, to start all that was 



WILBUR M. URBAN 359 

individual in my thinking. The first of these was Nietzsche's 
Genealogy of Morals, the second Meinong's Psychologische-ethischc 
Untersuchungen zur Werttheorie (1894), both of which I picked 
up almost by accident in the bookshops of Jena and Eisenach. 

I shall never forget the long night in which I read through the 
Genealogy of Morals. It was, I believe, the greatest single spiritual 
adventure of my life. In the grey light of the morning I found 
myself surveying the wreckage of my beliefs in a curious mood 
one in which a profound sense of loss was not unmixed with that 
unholy Schaden-freude in which the naturally destructive in- 
stincts of youth so often find satisfaction. Enough that I knew 
from that moment that, not only was the problem of values my 
problem, but also that it was destined to be the key problem 
of the epoch in which I was to live. So far as the immediate 
problem of the proposed transvaluation of our moral values 
is concerned, my personal solution is here of no interest. The 
important point is that the problem widened out for me, as it 
did for Nietzsche himself and for many others into the problem 
of values at large, including the values of knowledge and logic. 
In all these matters Nietzsche has always been for me a sort of 
advocatus diaboli, as it were. In this enfant terrible of modernism 
I have found, not only the most incisive intellect of our time, 
but the epitome of all that I have come to recognize as the spirit 
of modernism. But of this more later. The immediate effect of 
the Genealogy was to create in me the desire to investigate the 
whole field of human values. 

At this time my entire thinking was determined by what is 
called the "scientific point of view." Not only had I adopted the 
"protective colouring" of scientific method, but like many at 
that stage of development I really knew no categories except 
the existential and the causal. Between explaining a thing and 
understanding it I saw no difference, and a genetic account of 
the origin of a thing was the same thing as its interpretation. 
It was natural, therefore, that Meinong's little book should 
have much to say to me. "The value problem before the forum 
of psychology," as he described it, was precisely what I wanted 
at that time. 



360 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

I saw in Meinong's little book many things. First of all, of 
course, an unusually keen application of scientific method to the 
problems that fascinated me. But as I look back, I now see that 
there were certain germinal ideas which, although I did not fully 
appreciate their implications then, were to be progressively 
more and more influential. For one thing, I saw that, even before 
the forum of psychology, value must be clearly distinguished 
from "pleasure-causation"; that value, while feeling, is the 
content of feeling only when it is mediated by judgments and 
assumptions. This was my first inkling of the possible limitations 
of a causal, genetic point of view, and a fuller realization of the 
implications of this thesis led me into the entire problem of the 
relation of knowing and valuing, and ultimately to the question 
of the relation of value to reality. In the meantime, however, 
the studies of Ehrenf els served rather to confirm me in the psycho- 
biological point of view. Value appeared as "a biological pheno- 
menon appearing in a psychological form/' and this conception 
started me on an analysis and interpretation that was essentially 
genetic and evolutionary in character, and which served to raise 
the question of the relation of genesis to value and validity in an 
acute form. 

The thought of this period naturally found expression in 
many papers, largely psychological in character, and in a 
book, Valuation : Its Nature and Laws. What I had in mind in 
the latter was, of course, a kind of phenomenology of valuing. 
My object was to explore all the different fields of value, to 
connect fields hitherto unrelated, to discover, if possible, any 
laws or principles that might be found to be common to these 
different fields, and to explain or interpret, if possible, the 
levels of value and preferences between these levels. How success- 
ful I was in accomplishing this object is here wholly beside the 
mark. The only thing of interest here is the place of this work as a 
stage in the forming of my own philosophical creed. From this 
point of view the book has always been a source of real embarrass- 
ment to me. For it turned out, as is often the case, that its 
completion marked the passing beyond the stage which the book 
itself represented. 



WILBUR M. URBAN 361 

As to what happened to me in the course of the writing of 
this book, I can merely suggest it in the barest outline. What 
I wanted was really to understand human values. To this end 
I had developed what I called the Presuppositional Method which, 
as I defined it, should stand midway between the method of 
interpretation of the normative sciences and the causal method 
of explanation which abstracts from all meaning and its inter- 
pretation. I can only say that when I came to the fundamental 
problems of the last chapters I found the method breaking 
apart in my hands. I now realize that what I was feeling after 
was such a phenomenology as was much later developed by 
Spranger and Jasper, but which was possible only after value 
theory had developed far beyond the point which it had reached 
at that time. The immediate result for me was the practical 
abandonment of the psycho-biological approach to value, and 
the development of the axiological standpoint and method. 1 
It led ultimately, of course, to a denial of the prevenience of 
scientific method and to a recasting of my entire conception and 
ideal of philosophy. 

The attainment of this standpoint which I have called the 
"axiological point of view" had important consequences for my 
general philosophical position, of which I shall speak presently. 
It will be enough to mention here three important positions to 
which the working out of this standpoint led me. I came to see, 
for one thing, that value is ultimately indefinable in the sense 
that it cannot be understood through other things; it is rather 
an ultimate category through which other things (including 

1 The term "axiological" was coined by me wholly independently, 
and, so far as I know, it occurs in no earlier literature on Value. I mention 
this fact, not because of any special pride in the invention itself, but rather 
because I wish to show by mention of the fact that the same necessities 
of thought that led to its creation elsewhere were equally present in my 
own thinking. It is, however, something of a pleasure to remember the 
fun that some of the reviewers of Valuation had over the coining of this 
new term. As to the neo-Kantian literature on Value, especially the 
writings of Windelband and Rickert, my indebtedness to them is, of 
course, immeasurable, but rather in the way of helping me to find expres- 
sion for my standpoint than in determining that standpoint itself. My 
own position was determined rather by reaction against the pragmatic 
and neo-realistic theories of value. 



862 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

truth and existence themselves) are to be understood. The con- 
ception of value as a quality which underlay most of the current 
theories of value I found to be, not only the result of a faulty 
analysis of the "value judgment," but the source of most of 
the perplexities and artificialities of these theories. I came to see 
that knowing and valuing fact and value are inseparable. 
Reality, as we live it and know it, is our reality only as the stuff 
of experience is formed by the categories of value. We orient 
ourselves in the world by the relations of over and under, right 
and left, more and less, but not less necessarily by the relations 
of higher and lower, better and worse. It was one of Kant's 
peculiar limitations that while he recognized that the knowledge 
of nature is determined by certain forms immanent in mind, to 
the equally necessary forms of interpretation of life and the 
world he allowed merely the character of practical postulates. 
Though a necessary stage in the restoration of the objectivity 
of value, this was only a temporary position. I sought, therefore, 
to work out the a priori elements in value and valuation. Finally, 
I came to see that the fundamental problem of all philosophy 
is the relation of value and existence in a total "world- view." 
This involves the question of the ontological status of value. 
I had to admit that when one asks what and where value is, one 
is led into what are apparently almost insoluble problems. On 
one point alone was I quite clear at this stage namely, that 
value is not an "existent" nor "subsistent" in any intelligible 
meaning of those terms that its being is its validity. In a very 
significant sense "value is above all ontology/' and the full 
realization of the implications of this fact was bound, I felt, 
to lead to a reformulation of the entire philosophical problem. 

It is not necessary here to recount either the stages by which 
this general standpoint was reached or the arguments for the 
specific positions which it includes. They constitute a well-trodden 
path over which many have gone, and constitute part of the 
history of thought of the last decades. It is worth while, however, 
to single out one aspect of my thought for special comment. It 
concerns the gradual development in my thinking of what I 
later came to call the principle of philosophical intelligibility. 



WILBUR M; URBAN 363 

In the working out of my position I had come to see 
the insufficiency of what I have called the psycho-biological 
foundation of values. But I had also come to see in it a way of 
thinking that involves a circle so vicious as to constitute a 
veritable scandal in philosophic thought. We wish to understand 
values (and understanding involves validation) by carrying them 
back to life. But in this it is already assumed that life and its 
continuance have value. We have already acknowledged value 
as something known. The recognition that value is a logically 
primitive concept that can be neither defined nor validated in 
terms of anything else, came to me to be the first condition of 
any intelligible discourse about values at all. But this circle, 
apparent in connection with the alogical values, is a fortiori 
present when we consider the values of knowledge and truth. 
For if knowledge and the logical values, upon the acknowledg- 
ment of which knowledge rests, get their significance solely 
from their teleological relation to life, surely life must get 
its significance from absolute values which it embodies, or 
knowledge itself loses all genuine significance. I should put it 
this way. Mere intelligibility at least philosophical intelligi- 
bility necessitates a doctrine of absolute values. In all meaning- 
ful discourse about values acknowledgment of absolute values 
is already presupposed. 

The philosophy of absolute values thus became, so to speak, 
my philosophical creed. And it is in a very real sense a credo. 
Not without a logic of its own, which to its holder seems not only 
a very cogent but an inescapable logic, it may seem to those who 
do not hold it one of those cases of giving bad reasons for things 
we hold on instinct. 

In a sense there is something instinctive in it the fundamental 
metaphysical instinct itself. The doctrine of absolute values is, 
in fact, the revenge which the suppressed and violated meta- 
physical instinct took upon the positivism of the nineteenth 
century. As such, there is a certain fanaticism in it if you will. 
The affirmation of absolute values which do not exist in any 
intelligible sense of that word, but whose objectivity is precisely 
their validity absolute values that can but be acknowledged, 



864 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

but whose acknowledgment is the condition of any meaningful 
existential or truth judgment has, indeed, something in it both 
of the sophistication and the wilfulness inseparable from our 
epoch. I had a feeling from the first that this creed, while a 
necessary stage in thought, could not be final. The self that 
holds these absolute values, that acknowledges their validity, 
must also, so to speak, push out into life and reality. The desert 
of mere validity is unbearable. About this very notion of validity 
I realized certain difficulties. I came to see that while we must 
learn to breathe this somewhat rarefied air, we could not remain 
very long in it. Or, to change the figure, while we must learn 
to talk the language of validity, plain man and philosopher alike 
must in the end speak an ontological language. By this I mean 
that while the philosophy of absolute values must be a necessary 
stage in any intelligible philosophy, it cannot be final; it must 
ultimately pass into a metaphysic. But of this more later. 

Ill 

It is now time to say something of the wider ramifications 
of my thought to which, as I have suggested, the theory of 
value could in a sense be only a prelude. And first of all I find 
it necessary to speak of the way in which this particular approach 
to philosophy caused me to envisage the knowledge problem, that 
problem which, whether we like it or not, we have been forced 
to make central in our thinking. I can do this best, perhaps, by 
indicating my reactions to certain major movements in philo- 
sophy in the last quarter-century. 

It is easy to see that on a mind thus oriented from the begin- 
ning, and fertilized in the way described, the pragmatic move- 
ment could not fail to have a real influence. I was never for one 
moment really a pragmatist, but there were long periods when 
I thought that perhaps I ought to be one, just as there have 
been long periods when I thought I ought to be a "realist." 
Some kindly instinct prevented me from committing myself to 
either position, and I am now able to see why I was preserved. 
So far as Pragmatism was concerned, the persuasiveness of 



WILBUR M. URBAN 365 

William James was almost irresistible. That which appealed to 
me primarily, of course, was his clear recognition that the problem 
of knowledge is part of the problem of values at large. The phase 
of this general position which had most influence on my thought 
was, however, his very brilliant and original chapter on "Meta- 
physical Problems Pragmatically Considered." 

Under this heading he takes up successively the alternatives, 
materialism and spiritualism, mechanism and teleology, deter- 
minism and free will. On his pragmatic principles, it will be 
remembered, he argues that these alternatives are irrelevant 
from the retrospective, scientific point of view. Any decision or 
preference, for spirit, free will, purpose, monism, have as their 
sole meaning a better promise for the world's outcome, "be 
they false or be they true, the meaning of them is their meliorism." 
Of course this original and fascinating reinterpretation of tradi- 
tional metaphysical problems soon disclosed itself to me as the 
rather violent tour de force it really is. But I also felt that the 
realization of this fact should not obscure the important half- 
truth in the conception. The complete truth of these metaphysical 
conceptions does not, it is true, lie in their meliorism, their 
practical value, but an important part does. A still more important 
part of their meaning lies in their value, if value be understood 
as I had come to understand it. In a world in which certain 
values were not already acknowledged, it would be immaterial 
whether the world had its origin in matter or spirit, whether 
there were freedom or determinism. In a word, these conceptions 
are really significant only for interpretation, and interpretation 
presupposes communication with its acknowledgment of values. 

For this partial recognition on the part of James of the real 
nature and meaning of metaphysical problems, I owe him much. 
If in the enthusiasm of his genial insight he was led to extrava- 
gances of thought we now realize, we may perhaps think of 
them as necessary incidents of a new way of thinking. But the 
tour de force was patent to me. In attempting to separate ques- 
tions of value from questions of ultimate being more particularly 
to separate questions of destiny from questions of origin he was 
simply attempting one of those impossible things so beloved of 



366 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

the modern mind that combination of incompatibles which, as 
Ferrero has well said, is one of its chief characteristics. 

In indicating one of the important contributions of Pragma- 
tism to the development of my philosophical creed, I have 
also indicated what prevented me from ever becoming a prag- 
matist. What was it that held me back? Many things, of course. 
What I have elsewhere called the essential incoherence of the 
pragmatic theory of value, which is, of course, but a form of 
that vicious circle that I have already indicated. Then there is 
its instability as a theory of knowledge, its vacillation between 
a naturalistic realism and a subjective idealism. But what chiefly 
held me back was the inescapable feeling that there was a curious 
process of denaturing going on. Everything it touched with its 
"pragmatic value," whether knowledge, truth, freedom, God 
what not, by a curious fatality seemed to have all its meaning 
taken out of it. It was something like Midas's golden touch. I 
seemed to sense from the beginning its predestined end the 
pan-fictionism of Vaihinger and the pan-illusionism of Gaultier. 
An article entitled 'The Will to Make Believe," which I intended 
to be an ironical comment on The Will to Believe, signalized at 
once my experiences with Pragmatism and my deliverance from it. 

As I have never been a pragmatist, so I have never really 
been a realist, although here also there have been times when 
I felt that I ought to be one. But here I am afraid I shall have 
difficulty in making myself clear, for the very simple, but what 
will seem to many curious, reason that I am not an idealist 
either, in the sense in which the term is often used in current 
epistemological controversy. My position is "beyond realism and 
idealism." 

With the various "new" realisms I have never been able to 
come to an understanding at all. For one thing, their "refutations 
of idealism" seem to me to be based either on an impossible 
attempt to reduce historic idealism to the Berkeleyan formula, 
or else on an unintelligent application of a theory of relations, 
developed in modern mathematical logic, to the knowledge rela- 
tion where it does not apply. The attempt on the part of New 
Realism proper to restore a naive realism by a paradoxical theory 



WILBUR M. URBAN 367 

of illusions seems to me to be a violent tow de force possible 
only to a philosophy at its wits' end. With what is called Critical 
Realism I find myself little better able to come to an under- 
standing. Are universals to be given a purely psychological 
interpretation, or must subsistents be assumed that have a 
wholly non-psychological status ? Such a divergence of opinion 
seems to me to be not merely one incidental to developing 
theory, but one which, when consistently thought out, leads to 
wholly divergent results. But, after all, it is none of these things 
important as they may be in a way that really determines my 
attitude towards realism in either of its modern forms. It is 
rather what I consider the fundamental misconception on the 
part of both of the nature of the knowledge problem. 

From this point of view, whatever their differences, they repre- 
sent the same standpoint and the same point of departure. 
Naturalism is the keynote of both. For both mind is conceived 
organically in terms of responses of higher nervous centres. 
Thus the setting of both is psycho-biological, and to my mind 
this setting is fundamentally false. It is true that even here there 
are differences between the two types of realism. Neo-realism 
tends towards an extreme Behaviorism, and is sceptical of any 
subjective realm, while the "critical realist accepts such a 
realm and holds it to be intrinsic to the total "organic response/' 
But from my point of view these are minor differences. Both 
involve a peculiarly vicious circular movement of thought which, 
to me at least, means philosophical unintelligibility. First, 
various natural sciences are taken as premises for the conclusion 
that the objects or contents of consciousness occur within the 
organism as part of its response to stimulation by physical 
objects other than it. Then we are told that these intra-organic 
contents have a cognitive function. But how invest them with a 
function which by their very definition and characterization they 
do not have and are patently incapable of discharging? The 
fact that so many modern minds do not feel difficulties of this 
sort is one of the things I have the greatest difficulty in under- 
standing. I can only explain it by surmising that our extreme 
empiricism has robbed us of a certain sense for logicality, or for 



368 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

what I should call the finer, inner harmonies of thought in 
other words, the sense for philosophical intelligibility. 

Nevertheless, as I have said, there have been many times 
when I have felt that I ought to be a realist. In my perplexity I 
turned to certain forms of realism which have been developed in 
Germany. In this connection I may perhaps refer to an experience 
in the year 1913, part of which I spent with A. Meinong in 
Graz. Ostensibly there for the study of value problems, I was 
secretly hoping that I should be converted to realism. Our 
specific problem was whether values should be considered 
Gegenstdnde in the sense of some form of subsistence or whether 
their being is their validity. As we spent many afternoons reading 
Rickert's Gegenstand der Erkentniss and Husserl's Phenomeno- 
logie, we were led into all the questions of realism and idealism. 
With the general standpoint of Gegenstand-theorie and Pheno- 
menologie (for in fundamentals they are the same movement), 
I found myself in very real sympathy. Here the setting of the 
epistemological problem is not psycho-biological; the realism 
of the phenomenological point of view is not tied to naturalism. 
But it is precisely this study that led me to go the way of Husserl 
rather than that of Meinong. When Husserl finds that the very 
condition or presupposition of the phenomenological point of 
view itself is "a transcendental sociology having reference to a 
manifest multiplicity of conscious subjects communicating with 
each other 1 ' a transcendental monadology, as he calls it, I 
can only agree with him. This communication is the ultimate fact 
to which all analysis of knowledge must come. If this is idealism, 
as most of his critics say that it is, then I am an idealist. For my 
own part, I think that it is a position that transcends the opposi- 
tion of realism and idealism. 

I should like to take the present opportunity to develop this 
position which I describe as "beyond realism and idealism," 
but space will not permit. I have already published a preliminary 
sketch of my solution of the problem, and am now developing 
it in fuller form. I can merely suggest here in the most general 
way the lines along which my mind is moving. 

I have come to believe, with many of both parties to the 



WILBUR M. URBAN 369 

dispute, that the opposition is not fundamental, but one that 
can be transcended. I believe that the developments of modern 
science have done away with many of the extrinsic motives that 
have kept alive the opposition; and also that the increasing 
agreement of realists and idealists as to the over-individual and 
over-social nature of values is creating a standpoint from which 
the opposition becomes greatly softened and takes on a new 
and different meaning. Of determinative importance, however, 
is my present conception of the nature of the problem itself. 
1 have come to believe that in this dispute we are not concerned 
with a problem of knowledge in the ordinary empirical sense 
at all, but with a matter of dialectic, wholly within the realm of 
discourse. Neither idealist nor realist can prove his own position, 
and neither can really refute the other, as indeed Fichte long 
ago saw. The arguments of either position are cogent only for 
one who has already acknowledged the ideal of "genuine know- 
ledge" or of "bond fide logic" already postulated. In other words, 
the epistemological problem is part of the problem of values at 
large. If, then, we change the form of our question and ask what 
ideals of knowledge must be postulated, what logical values must 
be assumed, if genuine knowledge is to be possible, we shall 
find, I think, that in the end both of the values for which idealists 
and realists have stood must be acknowledged. Otherwise 
stated, a problem that has proved wholly insoluble from the 
existential point of view is fully capable of solution if we take 
the axiological standpoint; the two positions which are in com- 
plete opposition from the point of view of the exclusive logics 
of realism and idealism are entirely compatible from the stand- 
point of values. For these and other reasons I am coming to 
believe that a proposal, such as that of Professor Kemp-Smith, 
"to formulate an idealist theory of knowledge on realist lines," 
is not paradoxical but fully capable of being carried out. 

In any case, my own epistemological creed contains three 
articles which seem, to me at least, to be essential to any en- 
lightened theory of knowledge. First, the activity of knowing 
cannot be the object of "science" in any intelligible sense of that 
word, for science presupposes it. Secondly, all genuine knowledge 

VOL. II AA 



370 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

presupposes that the object of our knowledge is different from 
our thinking, but it also presupposes communication from mind 
to mind, and such communication, to be intelligible, presupposes 
mutual acknowledgment of values. Thirdly, the standpoint of a 
theory of knowledge is above the distinction of realism and 
idealism, for both must presuppose communication and the realm 
of meanings and values, the acknowledgment of which alone 
makes communication possible. 



IV 

I suppose that one of the most trying problems of my entire 
intellectual life has been to find a name for my philosophical 
position. For a long time the term neo-Kantian would perhaps 
have fitted it better than any other. My indurated metaphysical 
scepticism was gradually yielding, but I was for a long time under 
the dominance of the notion that ontology or metaphysics is 
merely a roundabout way of solving the value problem, and that 
the solution of this problem is philosophy. My creed of absolute 
values, arrived at in the manner described, and my view of the 
nature of the knowledge problem, had led me to the position that 
the farthest point to which philosophy can go is the recognition 
of the ultimate inseparability of fact and value, value and exist- 
ence, and that any step beyond that point must necessarily 
involve a trenching on the mythical or the mystical. 

My philosophical conversion to metaphysics really came from 
something deeper than "logic." I did not so much change my 
beliefs as wake up to find them changed. Perhaps the change 
may be described in the following way. I found myself almost 
insensibly doing something I had not done for a long time 
namely, re-reading the great philosophers of the past, not as 
grist for my technical mill, so to speak, but rather, if I am to 
be frank about it, as a means of edification. What I wanted was 
Weltanschauung, and none of the moderns had anything to offer. 
The metaphysical instinct in me, that which alone makes blessed, 
found satisfaction only in these. 

This philosophical conversion, it should be said, was part 



WILBUR M. URBAN 871 

of a larger movement of my entire spiritual life. I had come to 
see that I was living in a period in which the break with the 
past was immensely more far-reaching than I had realized that 
the novel developments in philosophy to which I had sought 
to adjust my thought were but expressions in the form of re- 
flection of those tendencies in art, religion, and science which 
we have come to call modernistic. I began to seek to understand 
this, especially as I found myself more and more out of sympathy 
both with the mood of modernism and with the premises on 
which that mood seemed to be based. To my surprise I found 
it tremendously difficult to really understand my time. It is 
doubtful whether there has ever been a period in which man 
has understood himself so little, in which man has at the same 
time been so knowing and so unaware, so burdened with pur- 
poses and yet at bottom so purposeless, so disillusioned and yet 
feeling himself so completely the victim of illusion. This con- 
tradiction pervades our entire modern culture, our science and 
our philosophy, our literature and our art. What is the meaning 
of this? I asked myself. Well, I came to the conclusion that we 
are trying to decide whether we are really merely high-grade 
simians or whether we are sons of God in more philosophical 
terms, whether our intelligence, reason, and all that these terms 
connote, are really merely biological adaptations or have also 
a transcendental meaning and status. This indecision of the 
modern mind did not at first seem to bother us, but it is now 
beginning to get under our skins. We are finding it increasingly 
difficult to talk about such things as "ideals" and "values," yes, 
even of truth the very truth of science itself without sticking 
our tongues in our cheeks. Such talk somehow sounds ridiculous 
in the mouth of a high-grade simian. 

In all this some may think to catch a note of fanaticism, and 
yet it seems to me to express the universal and fundamental 
problem of our epoch, and our indecision regarding it to be the 
key to all our incoherence and contradictions. The way the 
problem presented itself to me was, of course, determined by my 
own special approach to philosophy and by the terms in which 
I had been working. From the beginning I had felt, not only 



372 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

that the problem of values was my problem, but that it was the 
distinctive problem of the epoch to which I belonged. This epoch, 
I felt, had now come quite universally to this point: the values 
are there in some fashion irrespective of a mechanistic 
science, of a devastating psychologist**, or of a merely biological 
conception of the mind. But it does not do for the philosopher 
merely to assert that they are there; he must face the question 
of where they are and how they are there. In some obscure, but 
very real, way their very being as values depends upon the answer 
to this question. 

Hitherto these values had been connected with great tradi- 
tional systems of philosophy and theology. Gone, we are told, 
gone completely is this metaphysic. The values must now be 
transferred to the foundations of modern realism and naturalism. 
But is this possible? Now it was entirely clear to me from my 
studies of value that this is not possible. The entire attempt 
of the modern mind to do this seemed to me but one of the many 
indications of its loss of the sense of essential intelligibility 
and of that readiness to combine incompatibles which is one of 
its chief characteristics. Still less possible seemed to me that 
other tour de force of the modern mind, according to which it 
finds itself able to talk of values as immediately "enjoyed," but 
in their essence completely divorced from existence. This seemed 
to me, not only the height of sophistication, but, as James says, 
"the perfection of rottenness." Enough that searchings of mind 
and heart such as these led me to review afresh the whole field of 
traditional philosophy with which the values had been bound up, 
and to face again the whole way of thinking which had led 
modernism to turn its back on this philosophia perennis. I came 
to the conclusion that the great tradition is not dead, but that its 
restatement must constitute the next great step in philosophical 
development. 

In the recasting of my thinking at this point the study of 
Nietzsche and Bergson was of outstanding importance. In his 
chapter on "The Prejudices of the Philosophers" I found Nietzsche 
stating much more clearly than the "technical" philosophers the 
inmost driving-force of this tradition. He made it clear to me 



WILBUR M. URBAN 373 

that there are certain things "common to the metaphysicians 
of all time." All subscribe to that "mythical philosophy," as 
the moderns now call it, which connects the values of things in 
some way with their origin and their end. Bergson also made it 
clear to me, not only that there is a continuous tradition from 
Plato and Aristotle to the present time, but that this tradition is 
really the "natural metaphysic of the human mind." Not only is it 
the metaphysic to which every mind will come that follows the 
natural bent of the reason, but it is natural precisely because, 
as he points out, it is oriented towards value. He sees also that it 
refuses to separate the meaning and value of things from their 
origin and their end. 

Now it is on this tradition that both Nietzsche and Bergson 
turn their backs. And why do they thus turn their backs upon 
it? For the same reason that actuates all the other typical 
modernist philosophies for the reason, namely, that the intellect 
or reason of man, for which this metaphysic is the natural 
expression, is conceived as a merely biological product, developed 
on the service of the biological life. All the categories the logic 
and the language in which this natural metaphysics expresses 
itself, are infected with error and relativity at their very source, 
and constitute a mythology, amiable or otherwise, according to 
our mood or standpoint. 

Here, then, was finally a clean-cut issue to which my mind 
was gradually being forced. Between the premises of this tradi- 
tion and the premises of modernism there is no common ground. 
The whole question resolves itself into one of those fundamental 
issues which Fichte analysed so knowingly one in which the 
matter is in a sense ultimately one of free choice. Faced with such 
an issue there could be for me only one choice, for while in a 
sense it was free, in another sense the option was forced. It is 
quite possible to say that it is a matter of temperament, of 
psychological rather than logical reasons, and to such an ad 
hominem there is really no wholly satisfactory answer. In any 
case, the option was forced for me by what I call the demands of 
philosophical intelligibility. 

What I understand by philosophical intelligibility has been 



374 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

suggested in a general way at a number of points. I find it wholly 
unintelligible to seek to validate values by carrying them back 
to life and at the same time to refuse to acknowledge the absolute 
values that alone give life meaning, and without which it cannot 
be interpreted. I find it unintelligible to the point of being 
suicidal to ascribe to knowledge a cognitive function and then 
so to describe knowledge, naturalistically, as to make the events 
of which it is composed, by their very nature, incapable of 
discharging that function. But the climax is reached when we 
assert that the values are there, are valid, and then divorce them 
from the only metaphysic that makes their validity intelligible. 

It was then by ways of thinking such as these that my creed 
of absolute values became a transition to metaphysics and to the 
development of a metaphysical creed. I had already learned one 
important lesson from William James namely, that questions 
of origin and destiny are irrelevant and meaningless if abstracted 
from questions of value. I now came to see, even more clearly, 
that questions regarding the validity of values are meaningless 
if values are divorced from questions of origin and destiny. The 
temporary effort of the modern mind to do this could be under- 
stood only as a necessary, though desperate, resort in the face 
of an overpowering evolutionary naturalism. I now came to see 
that the axiological point of view, the standpoint of absolute 
values, not only might be, but must be a transition to meta- 
physics. I found myself coming to agree with Lotze in his memor- 
able statement that "the apodictic character of experience itself 
can be ascribed only to the good (or value). Everything depends 
upon the fact that an ought is there, that sets the play of thoughts, 
of ground, cause purpose, in movement." I came to see that the 
entire body of traditional metaphysic was essentially a value- 
charged scheme of thought and must be interpreted from this 
point of view. Precisely because to separate value and reality 
is unintelligible, such a value charged scheme of thought is the 
necessary form of an intelligible world. 

Here again I can simply state the metaphysical creed to which 
I have arrived, confident, however, that it is not only that to 
which one is inevitably driven by conscious lines of argument 



WILBUR M. URBAN 375 

such as I have suggested, but that it also represents the deeper 
convictions to which the less conscious thinking of the period 
has driven most of those who have approached the philosophical 
problem in my way. 

I hold that there can be no existence without value and no 
value without existence. Reality is neither mental nor material, 
but a realm in which thought and thing, fact and value, are in- 
separable. The acknowledgment of this relation is the condition 
of philosophical intelligibility. To separate value and reality 
leads to contradiction and unintelligibility. To this first article 
I add a second. This inseparability of value and existence means 
that value cannot be separated from origin and destiny. These 
are "time-forms" of value, and no interpretation of the temporal 
is possible without them. Some conception of intelligible causation 
and of intelligible finality must enter into any intelligible philo- 
sophy. These categories together with the categories of sub- 
stance and totality with which they are closely connected are 
very flexible. If one form is refuted, they will immediately take 
another; but no logic, nor conception of logic, whether atomistic 
or idealistic has either the power or the right to turn them into 
appearance, nor to inhibit the fundamental spiritual initiatives 
out of which they arise. Thirdly, any intelligible philosophy must 
be a system and ultimately a system of values. It is all very 
well for the modernist to say that system in philosophy is a 
"rationalization," or that logically a completed system is a 
self-contradictory notion. The fact remains that without system 
there is no philosophy, and it is our business to form an intelligible 
concept of system. Such a system must in the last analysis 
be a system of values and validities, and must be able in some 
way to embody or interpret the "form of philosophical intelli- 
gibility 1 ' which belongs to the innate metaphysic of the human 
mind. 

In thus describing my return to the metaphysic that the 
moderns have called "mythical/ 1 I should perhaps add two 
further comments. I am not, of course, unaware of the element 
of symbolism in it. Metaphysic is for me, not as Bergson supposes, 
the science that seeks to dispense with symbols, but rather that 



376 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

which develops the symbolism inherent in language to its highest 
pitch, that which seeks language for the expression of the meaning 
of reality in its totality. It follows, then, that while this meta- 
physic, with its concepts of ultimate origin and ultimate destiny, 
will never be refuted, it is very flexible and capable of ever new 
restatement and ^interpretation. It is the function of value 
philosophy to understand its symbolic character and to inter- 
pret it. 

In the second place, the conception here developed determines 
my conception of religion and of its philosophy. For me the 
religious problem has always been the fundamental problem of 
philosophy. I am, I suppose, what would be called religiously 
minded. For one thing, when I meet a really religious man I am 
conscious of a type of personality that I immediately understand 
one who has a certain grasp of life and reality that irreligious 
men have not. In the latter I find a certain leanness of soul that is 
to me frankly repellent. In any case, this will perhaps explain 
why, for me at least, religion has always been, to use a term 
applied by Coleridge to poetry, "covert metaphysics," and I 
am unable to distinguish ultimately between philosophy and 
religion. Both have as their ultimate problem the relation of value 
to reality, and any religion divorced from metaphysics is a 
contradictio in adjecto. It will also be understood why for me 
Theism in some form is the only intelligible philosophy of re- 
ligion. For the reason that there cannot be any intelligible meta- 
physics without intelligible causation and intelligible finality, the 
form of thinking about God is the same as the form of thinking 
about ultimate reality; the arguments from first cause and tele- 
ology are essentially sound. They are simply special applications 
of the principle that origin and value and value and destiny 
are inseparable. Finally, it will doubtless be understood when 
I say that modernism in religion with its irresistible drift to 
a merely naturalistic humanism is for me wholly unintelligible. 
If one speaks to me of a "god in the making," I simply throw up 
my hands. It is simply incomprehensible to me how thinkers of 
this type should take so long to learn their lesson from Nietzsche 
that for them God should have long since been dead, 



WILBUR M. URBAN 377 



The constant use of the terms "philosophical intelligibility" 
and "intelligible world" in my later thinking and writing indi- 
cates both the standpoint from which I am now viewing all 
philosophical problems and also the end towards which all my 
philosophical investigations are now directed. I have come to 
feel that the basal problem of all science and philosophy is the 
problem of a philosophy of language and symbolism, and I hope 
ultimately to contribute something toward the solution of that 
problem. 

The way this has come about is something like this. I find 
myself in a world of thought and expression in which the language 
used is in many respects very different from that of the past. 
So great is this "divide" that some of the more enthusiastic 
moderns inform us that "our mental nature has so changed that 
we now have entirely new notions of what facts are and of what 
standards of thought are." This new mentality is so different 
that we speak a new idiom, and "we could scarcely now hope to 
make ourselves understood by minds of an older age." As a 
corollary of this, I am told that the traditional language of 
philosophy, in which all the philosophers of the past have held 
high converse, must now be abandoned because it is bound up 
with a form of logic which the labours of certain modern logicians 
have rendered obsolete. 

All this, of course, throws me into a state of great bewilderment. 
For one thing, a large part of what the moderns are saying in this 
new idiom is to me wholly unintelligible. I understand the words, 
of course, but I do not understand the sense. When they speak 
of Socrates as a "collection," or tell me that there is no such 
thing as consciousness in their language, or that it is no longer 
good form to use the words, substance, cause, purpose, because 
science does not use them in its language, I am of course puzzled. 
But I am even more bewildered when I am told that because our 
natural language is infected with error, the ideal would be a 
logic that abstained from all use of natural language, and to 
Develop a Volapujc in which there would be no subjects 



878 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

predicates any more. I am bewildered because I cannot see any 
outcome to this except a complete paralysis of speech. I don't 
see how we can go on talking at all unless there are subjects to 
talk about and predicates to apply to them. 

Again, all this naturally leads me to ask the question: how 
they could possibly "get that way?" I find that it is fairly easy 
to see how men can say such things if one understands their 
premises. I find all these moderns, whether they are pragmatists, 
atomistic logicians, or intuitional mystics, have much the same 
things to say about language and for much the same reasons. 
They all think of thought, and therefore of language, in a purely 
biological context. Language being "but the cries of the forests, 
corrupted and complicated by arrogant anthropoid apes," it is 
unfitted either to grasp or express the true nature of being : it is 
not "moulded on reality." Whatever may be said of the premises, 
the consequences are astounding. The modern mind seems to 
find itself suspended between two contradictory positions, both 
of which it is trying to accept at the same time. In one mood it 
is flirting with an extreme Behaviorism which defines science as 
language well-made, and then views language as a merely bio- 
logical adaptation to environment the only result of which is a 
pan-fictionism that swallows up science itself. At another moment 
it dreams of an absolute logic which can become so only by a 
complete divorce from language. In the first case language can 
say nothing true, in the latter nothing that really interests 
anybody. 

This is what I call neo-nominalism, and is the key to all 
modernistic tendencies in philosophy. Now I agree that on such 
premises the language of traditional metaphysics is "either 
nonsense or a sorry sort of poetry." But I also think, with 
Chesterton, that such nominalism is the deepest of all heresies. 
It is, surely, a dreadful thing to be told that there is no Socrates, 
or that when we use such terms as life, soul, God, personality, 
beauty, truth, etc., we are using words for which there is no 
"referent." It is a dreadful thing to be told that all these are 
"pseudo-simples," and that all the categories of substance, cause, 
purpose, with which philosophy has operated in the past, must 



WILBUR M. URBAN 879 

be eliminated from the polite discourse of the moderns. But that 
is not the most dreadful thing about this heresy; it is rather the 
thought that, if I am to be logical in this sophisticated sense, I 
must turn my back entirely on the natural logic and meta- 
physics of the great minds of the past, and in the end confine my 
communication wholly to these moderns. 

The outlook is really too dreadful to contemplate ! For myself, 
the whole thing seems to me to be one of the most monstrous 
thoughts that it has ever entered into the mind of man to con- 
ceive. I am sure that there must be something terribly wrong 
with it, and for my part I am determined to find out what is 
wrong. In any case, I am convinced that this whole question of 
language and logic will have to be gone over again and from 
the beginning. I think that we shall have to take again as basal 
certain things that are now everywhere impugned: (i) that 
communication, and a certain trust in natural language necessary 
for communication, are presupposed by knowledge and science, 
and cannot in any intelligible sense be explained by science; 
(2) that the potentiality of logical form in natural language is 
the necessary postulate of such communication, and therefore 
of any intelligible logic; (3) finally, that the natural metaphysics 
which has developed out of natural language in man's efforts 
to express the meaning of life, and of the world in which that 
life is lived, cannot be fundamentally invalidated by any later 
developments of language and logic created for certain specific 
purposes. 

I cannot, of course, argue in detail for these positions here. 
I can only say that to work on the opposite assumptions means, 
if the consequences are carried out consistently, not only that 
philosophy is ultimately shorn of all the concepts that have 
hitherto made communication possible, not only that most of 
the things about which philosophy has hitherto talked must be 
put in the class of "those things that cannot be expressed," but 
ultimately that complete paralysis of speech to which I have 
referred. This seems to me to be a veritable reductio ad absurdum, 
and merely part of the general philosophical unintelligibility of 
which I have spoken. 



880 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

VI 

At the beginning of this attempt to state my philosophical 
creed, I referred to it as an apologia. For reasons that are now 
apparent, it is perhaps of necessity more of an apology than 
many of the other papers in this series. To be a fundamentalist 
and traditionalist in philosophy requires, to be sure, more 
justification than any reasons I have been able to bring forward 
in this context; I shall be content if I have been able to suggest 
some of the more compelling motives that have actuated my 
thinking. 

There is one point that I feel that I must add in conclusion. 
A philosophical creed, like any other religious, social, artistic, 
scientific involves always in a sense, and to a degree, ''believing 
where we cannot see." There are many things that I cannot see, 
and in all probability never shall see clearly. I cannot quite see, 
for instance, just how fact and value, value and existence, are 
related (there are many perplexities here), although I do see 
perfectly that to separate them means ultimately unintelligi- 
bility. All attempts to state that relation leave something to be 
desired; I cannot deny an element of mystery here. Again I 
cannot quite see how the absolute values are to be grasped as a 
totality. There are many things that argue for their autonomy, 
and no attempt to organize these values in a system has been 
satisfactory. But I do see clearly that they do constitute a 
totality, and that system is the condition of intelligibility. And so 
it is with all my major beliefs. Thus, for me it is true both psycho- 
logically and philosophically that "the soul possesses God in 
so far as it participates in the absolute," but a complete indenti- 
fication of the religious with the metaphysical notion I have 
never found possible. 

I do not see these things, I say, and yet this is not quite the 
truth. I see many of these things in certain moments of insight, 
and these moments are sufficient to bear the weight of a great 
deal of rationalizing. I must therefore admit a certain element 
of mysticism into my creed and, like James Ward, acknowledge 
that the most fundamental things in philosophy cannot be 



WILBUR M. URBAN 381 

expressed without "trenching on the mystical." But this does 
not disturb me, for it is the one thing that above all else proves 
to me the inseparability of philosophy and life. In any case, I am 
not a mystic in the sense that my mysticism involves either a 
negative metaphysic or a negative theology. I find myself akin 
to those who have found it possible to live with comfort in the 
great systems in which philosophia perennis has continually 
expressed itself. These systems are in a sense houses (man-made 
houses, if you will) in which men dwell. Even so I for one am 
content to dwell in such a house, for I am sure that in some way 
which I cannot quite express, back of it, or in it, is "a house 
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

Valuation: Its Nature and Laws. (Library of Philosophy,) George 
Allen & Unwin, Ltd. (1909). 

The Intelligible World: Metaphysics and Value. (Library of Philo- 
sophy.) George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. (1929). 

"Value Theory and ^Esthetics," in Philosophy To-day. Open Court 
Publishing Co. (1928). 

ARTICLES 
(Pertinent to the foregoing discussion.) 

"Value and Existence," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, Etc., 

Vol. XIII, No. 17 (1916). 
"Knowledge of Value, Etc.," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, Etc., 

Vol. XIII, No. 24(1916). 
"Ontological Problems of Value," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, 

Etc., Vol. XIV, No. 12 (1917). 
"Beyond Realism and Idealism," Philosophical Review, Vol. XXVII, 

No. i (1917). 
"Origin and Value: The Unintelligibility of Philosophic Modernism," 

Philosophical Review, Vol. XXXII, No. 5 (1923). 
-'The Philosophy of Language," Psychological Bulletin, Vol. XXVI, 

No. 5 (1929). 

"Progress in Philosophy in the Last Quarter-Century" (Presidential 
Address before the American Philosophical Association), Philo- 
sophical Review, Vol. XXXV, No. 2 (1926). 



AN UNBORN IDEALISM 

By ROBERT MARK WENLEY' 

1 Died March 29, 1929. 

Born Edinburgh, 1861; Head of the Department of Philosophy and 
Psychology in the University of Michigan since 1896* 



AN UNBORN IDEALISM 

THE courteous invitation to appear in this volume asks, among 
other things, that the article "should embody its author's philo- 
sophical creed." Good omen or bad, I am still in search of one! 
Fortunately the sentence continues, "together with the circum- 
stances in his life history which have influenced him in reaching 
it." So, my creedlessness may be mitigated somewhat by the fact 
that the conditions of my nurture and education, far away and 
long ago, cannot but be in sharp contrast to those of my colleagues. 
This creates a diversion which seems to compel a fuller account 
than would be advisable otherwise. It may be apposite to recall 
that I did not appear upon the American scene till I had turned 
thirty-five, and to add, that nobody escapes these formative 
years. What came before 1896 is of paramount importance, so 
far as I can judge, and I offer no apology for intruding it. 

The same interval has sped since F. H. Bradley wrote: "The 
present generation is learning that to gain education a man must 
study in more than one school." l Well, it goes without saying 
that America furnished abundant opportunities for a second 
education, to use Gibbon's phrase. More to the point, probably, 
when a youngster I was cast unwitting into the vortex of a 
definite "school" at its liveliest. With praiseworthy intent, my 
father wished me to complete the Arts course at Glasgow ere adopt- 
ing the profession he recommended. His selection was the fruit 
of intimate knowledge of feasible careers, to put it mildly. The 
vortex whirled me from a secure, not to say profitable, berth 
with a solid firm of Scots "writers" (more Americano, lawyers) 
manifest proof of its coercive effect, the counter-attraction 
considered. As a sequel, I found very much to learn and unlearn 
in the school of a life, precarious and unremunerative by com- 
parison. Moreover, the influence of a system, despite harsh 
experience, convicted me, if not of gullibility, then of unwisdom; 
so my father's circle judged emphatically. Thus, the sympathetic 
or benevolent optimism of teachers, to whom ties of scholastic 
respect and personal affection bound me, was shaken by know- 

1 Preface to Appearance and Reality, p. xiii (1893). 
VOL. II BB 



386 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

ledge of evils in their proportion nay, beyond all proportion, as 
it seemed to me more than once. 



Like kindred institutions everywhere, the Scottish Universities, 
especially the two larger, Glasgow and Edinburgh, have under- 
gone profound changes since my graduation forty-four years ago. 
So much so, that contemporary teachers and students could 
scarce reconstruct the situation in my time; Americans would be 
wholly at sea. The reason is not far to seek. It has been well said 
that, till the Act of 1889, the Scottish Universities preserved the 
mediaeval tradition more closely than any of their European 
sisters. When I matriculated, a bare decade had passed since 
migration to the present spacious buildings (1870) from the 
cramped seventeenth-century quarters (1640), themselves the 
third home since the original charter (1451). Our professors, 
with one exception, having taught in the old place for years, 
kept touch with an age strange even to my generation. 1 More 
important, the Trivium and Quadrivium remained strongly 
vestigial in the curriculum for the Arts degree. Choice there was 
none. Two years of Latin, Greek, and Mathematics; one year of 
Logic, Moral Philosophy, English Literature, and Natural Philo- 
sophy (physics) were obligatory upon every candidate for a 
"Pass"; an admirable discipline, which had everything to do 
with that typical product of the "old Scots' training, the poly- 
math. (Perhaps I ought to interject at this point, that I some- 
times think of myself as nigh the last of the line!) For "Honours/' 
one had the choice of the "Departments" of Classics, or Mathe- 
matics and Natural Philosophy, or Mental Philosophy (including 
English Literature). If one cared to fare farther afield, a B.Sc., or 
Honours in Natural Science, might be achieved. Consequently, 
specialization involved preparatory contact with various fields 
of knowledge. "Men who went conscientiously through that 

1 For an earlier generation see Professor Knight, Memoir of John Nichol, 
pp. 114!. (1896); David Murray, Memories of the Old College of Glasgow 
(1927). 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 387 

course carried with them in after-life, for the most part, an 
intellectual mark that was unmistakable/* Its flexibility not- 
withstanding, I doubt whether the "new" scheme can pretend to 
the former basic thoroughness. As may be inferred, too, a majority 
of the students were headed for future careers in the church, law, 
medicine, the secondary schools, the civil services, or politics; a 
small minority, destined to commerce, took a "Pass" for cultural 
purposes. Such, then, was the educational and social perspective. 
Seven subjects (the * 'sacred seven"), therefore seven professors 
in chief; we at Glasgow were in luck, the university being mid- 
most one of those "golden ages," intermittent at all universities, 
I suppose. Latin was in charge of G. G. Ramsay, a first-rate 
teacher; Jebb, already of European repute, decorated Greek; 
Blackburn, in mathematics, did not count, despite his record as 
editor of Newton his classes rioted joyously; Veitch, in Logic 
and Rhetoric, a "character" full of Aristotelian and Scots Border 
lore, represented the national philosophy, of which more anon; 
Sir William Thomson (afterwards Lord Kelvin) needs no com- 
ment ; Nichol, in English literature, the best lecturer I ever heard, 
exerted broad and, no less, broadening influence, the more that 
he did not suffer fools gladly. Even so, the genius loci was Edward 
Caird, Professor of Moral Philosophy, the most ingratiating 
teacher it has been my fortune to encounter anywhere; and he 
was seconded powerfully by his older brother John, Principal of 
the University, foremost British preacher of the time. 3 The 
brothers, together with Nichol, had made the university a 
"veritable seething-pot of ideas." 3 Nor were the junior staff, 
although, in the position of "assistants" quite subordinate then, 
unworthy their seniors. J. H. Muirhead and Henry Jones (later 
Sir Henry) cannot escape mention here. The raw material 
was excellent. James Bonar, Golden Bough Frazer, and John 
MacCunn had graduated recently, together with not a few others 

1 The late Professor George Chrystal in Proceedings R.S.E., vol. xxxii, 
p. 479. Cf. John Theodore Merz, A History of European Thought in the 
Nineteenth Century, vol. i, pp. 267 f. (1896). 

3 Cf. The Spectator (London), vol. Ixxxi, p. 174 (August 6, 1898). 

3 Cf. My article "Edward Caird/' Harvard Theological Review, vol. ii, 
pp. ii5f. (1909). 



388 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

destined to future fame. Francis Anderson, who was to leave his 
impress upon Australian thought, and J. S. Mackenzie, to name 
two of at least a dozen lights, were still in residence. Little 
wonder that study ranked the "major sport," and that intense 
emulation too intense mayhap gave tone to the place. More- 
over, numbers were small enough to favour intimate contacts 
my class graduated seventy-seven. Then, too, the new buildings 
had been erected on Gilmorehill, an eminence overlooking and 
marching with Kelvingrove Park of some 120 acres in the West 
End, giving us a kind of rus in urbe, seeing that the population 
of the city (1,100,000 to-day), then about 350,000, clustered to 
the east and south. Westward, green fields, reminders of the 
country houses affected by Virginian merchants till the com- 
mercial disaster of the American Revolution, lay almost within 
a stone's throw; indeed, the old mansion of Gilmorehill stood its 
ground inside the quadrangles, finding use as an administrative 
office. Such, then, was the immediate milieu. 

II 

But, after all, no matter what the apparent, because present, 
authority of institutions and persons, national imponderables 
lay in wait to take toll a most decisive feature in Scotland after 
the Disruption (1843). x The cultural tradition preserved vigour, 
being comparatively recent ; the ferment arose soon after Francis 
Hutcheson's lectures at Glasgow (1730-46). He ''disputed no 
dogma, and taught no heresy as he discussed the beauty of moral 
virtue, descanted on the harmony of the passions and the dignity 
of human nature; all this, not in dull obscure Latin like his 
colleagues, but in eloquent English." By the same sign, he 
inaugurated "Moderatism" in the Kirk, rendering the Five 
Points of Knox "strangely unreal." 2 Subsequent to Hume, also a 
"moderate," the Scottish School, "keeping to its own field, that 
of inductive psychology, allowed the students to follow their 

Cf. John Sutherland Black and George Chrystal, The Life of William 
Robertson Smith, pp. i f., 444 f. (1912), for the Disruption and "Moderatism." 

Cf . Henry Grey Graham, The Social Life of Scotland in the Eighteenth 
Century, pp. 352 f. (1906). 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 389 

own convictions, evangelical or rationalistic, but training all to 
a habit of skilful arrangement and exposition/' 1 Metaphysical 
presuppositions being relegated to the theologians by silent 
agreement, tacit norms did not come under fire.* The ecclesiastical 
cataclysm of 1843, upthrusting evangelical convictions, tended 
to preserve this division of labour by stress upon a practical 
piety masterful enough to recall the activist certainties of the 
Covenanters. 3 In workshop, store, and office, common life was 
sustained by an uncommon quality savouring of commerce with 
an Absolute. Hence everything ran back to mysteries too grave 
for discussion, yet intimating definite suggestions which forbade, 
not scepticism merely, but even inquiry. It is not surprising, then, 
that Scotland was fated to exhibit noteworthy symptoms of 
distress on the entrance of "modern thought with Darwin (1859) 
and Essays and Reviews (1860). 4 

1 James M'Cosh, The Scottish Philosophy from Hutcheson to Hamilton, 
p. 268 (1875). 

* I have tried to outline this in Donald Macmillan, The Life of Flint, 
chap, viii (1914); cf. Henry Grey Graham, Scottish Men of Letters in the 
Eighteenth Century, pp. 425 f. (1908). 

3 For other aspects of the picture, cf . H. C. Graham, Literary and Histori- 
cal Essays, pp. 233 f. (1908) ; Black and Chrystal, op. cit., pp. 414 f. 

* Sufficient time has elapsed now to make it abundantly evident that 
this state of affairs deflected the fortunes of Philosophy, thanks to the 
preconceptions swaying patrons of academic chairs. One cannot fail to 
remark the refusals to appoint J. F. Ferrier, at Edinburgh in 1856; John 
Nichol, at Glasgow in 1864 ("I know that some people are afraid of his 
theological views/' Memoir, p. 189); T. H. Green, at St. Andrews in 1864 
("I have been told that, though not a monster otherwise, I carry Comtism 
and Materialism to a degree hitherto unknown at Oxford," Works, vol. iii, 
p. xli); J. Hutchison Stirling, and even Robert Flint, at Edinburgh in 
1868 (cf. Amelia Hutchison Stirling, James Hutchison Stirling, His Life 
and Works (1912), Life of Flint, pp. 172 f.) ; and A. M. Fairbairn, at Aber- 
deen in 1876 (cf. W. B. Selbie, The Life of Andrew Martin Fairbairn, 
pp. 73 f., 1893) ; to say nothing of others still alive. Edward Caird's appoint- 
ment at Glasgow (1866) presupposed favourable local conditions he had 
"done nothing," as he told me that is, had not committed himself to his 
harm (cf. Sir Henry Jones and J. H. Muirhead, Life and Work of Edward 
Caird, pp. 46 f., 1921). So late as the eighties, the rumour gained ready 
currency that Sir Ray Lankester, who resigned the Chair of Natural 
History at Edinburgh ere induction (1882), had bowed to an anti-Darwin 
storm. He has been kind enough to inform me that the report lacks all 
foundation. This may serve to hint that the "controversy over Darwin" 



390 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Be details as they may, a transition, slow at first, accelerating 
through the seventies, governed the quarter-century (1860-85) 
that saw my schooling. Prudent guidance and "formation of 
character/' rather than intellectual discipline for its own sake, 
were featured from many professorial chairs. In any case, the 
conspicuous events took a practical turn, and the youth, shep- 
herded carefully, could not sense the commonplace limits of 
the moral or ecclesiastico-political questions enlisting their 

never became acute in Scotland ; the scientific leaders, Sir William Thomson, 
P. G. Tait, and Clerk Maxwell, to name three, were believers in revealed 
religion (cf. The Unseen Universe , or Physical Speculations on a Future 
State (1875); published anonymously; the authors were Tait and Balfour 
Stewart) . By the time it might have raised trouble, other events occupied the 
foreground, arousing the motion and absorbing the intellect of the nation . 
They were: (i) the "great mission" of the American evangelists, Moody 
and Sankey, 1873-75 (cf. George Adam Smith, The Life of Henry Drum- 
mond, chap, iv, 1898); (2) Flint's Baird Lectures (Theism, 1876; Anti- 
Theistic Theories, 1877); (3) the prosecution of Robertson Smith for 
heresy (higher criticism of the Old Testament), leading to suspension and, 
finally, to deposition from his Chair at the Aberdeen Theological College 
of the Free Church (1875-81), but to eventual victory over the narrow 
view of the inspiration of the Scriptures held hitherto (cf. Black and 
Chrystal, op. cit., chaps, v-viii, xiv) ; (4) Henry Drummond's Natural Law 
in the Spiritual World (1883) (cf. G. A. Smith, op. cit., pp. 148 f., 228 f.) 
The Smith case kept Scotland in turmoil for a decade. Theism ran through 
thirteen editions in a few years extraordinary for so technical a book; 
Drummond sold 123,000 copies quickly, and kept on selling into the 
nineties. Briefly, not Darwin, but the general relations between science 
and religion, with special reference to theological and quasi-philo- 
sophical principles, were "a topic of most acute personal interest to 
thousands." Notice, moreover, that something had happened in Scotland 
by 1883. "The hostile criticism, which the main idea of Drummond's 
book had received from the Glasgow Club to which it was first com- 
municated, was repeated nowhere more persistently than in Scotland, 
and by none with greater conviction than by a few of the author's 
closest companions 1 ' (G. A. Smith, op. cit., p. 229). Edward Caird's influ- 
ence told here. In addition, the fact was that Drummond had no hold upon 
philosophy. Further, those who were moved strongly by the practical 
religious movements of the day, tended to abandon philosophy as taught 
from very different standpoints by the three most powerful professors 
(Bain at Aberdeen, Campbell Fraser at Edinburgh, and E. Caird at Glas- 
gow), substituting the testimonium Spiritus Sancti. On the other hand, 
and inevitably, those of us who were undergraduates could not escape the 
national preoccupation in ecclesiastical and theological controversy, whether 
we liked it or not. 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 891 

enthusiasm. No doubt the relentless tide of industrialism was 
overtaking the middle and lower middle classes, but "social 
reform" had not acquired sufficient momentum to be ominous. 
Accordingly, the clamant problems, as men saw them then, 
loomed up in a theological or, as too often, ecclesiastical perspec- 
tive; even Carlyle, the gleam followed by the generation of the 
fifties, lay in partial shadow. 

My contacts with the disturbance happened to be unusual, 
possibly unique; for this reason my future career was profoundly 
influenced. My paternal grandparents, who immigrated from 
East Anglia in the late twenties, were Anglican by nurture. Due 
to circumstances irrecoverable now, ante-Disruption struggles 
seized them and, so far as children by adoption could, they 
shared the evangelical "revival," which thus gave my father his 
youthful outlook. On the contrary, my mother's people, scions 
of an old Border stock, held the "moderate" tradition (semi- 
Deist ic), and viewed the "supreme consciousness of special 
election' 1 with detachment, not to say cynical amusement. 
Although I never gave the matter thought as a schoolboy, it is 
plain to me now that I favoured the maternal strain. Moreover, 
my father's early contact with scientific circles, and his excellent 
library, led to suggestions hardly consonant with "pure" evan- 
gelical doctrine ! He had certain relations with David Livingstone, 
of a financial character, I take it. He was greatly interested in 
arctic exploration, and, more than likely, this accounted for his 
friendship with Sir John Murray in the late sixties and, after- 
wards, for his connection with the Challenger expeditions. At all 
events, he rendered service sufficient to justify election as Fellow 
of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This aspect of the home (a 
makeweight for my loss in not being sent to one of the great 
Public Schools, disapproved by my father) was rendered more 
vital by frequent visits, in the seventies, from my mother's 
kinsman, George John Romanes. I played Diener to him when 
he was gathering material for his Jelly-Fishes at our seaside 
cottage. As he was then in A Candid Examination of Tlteism 
(1878) stage, many discussions occurred whose purport would 
have horrified the "decent" evangelical Scot of the moment. 



392 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Then, too, the library furnished windows upon a larger world. 
I read R&ian's Vie de Jesus, Draper's The Intellectual Develop- 
ment of Europe, stretches of Grote's Greece, Sir Walter Scott, and, 
needless to recount, Paley. A first edition of Darwin's Origin 
and Jowett's Plato (1871) are among my early recollections 
they remain among my cherished possessions. From my mother's 
brother, who lived near by and was something of a collector, I 
had news of recent books, often discoloured theologically! An 
English cousin, far-flung as secretary to a diplomat, and my 
father's brother, who had returned (1872) from a long sojourn in 
Malaya, brought strange tales of other lands, well calculated to 
stimulate curiosity, if nothing else. Hence, as a lad with some 
Greek, more Latin, and most French, I had boxed a bit of the 
compass, and believed myself a sceptic (Hume), only to be sat 
upon severely by Veitch and Denney (the winsome evangelical 
leader of after-days), with whom I began philosophical study. 
They riled me nothing else ! I little foresaw that the crucial 
years were very nigh at hand. 

Ill 

Unusual contacts despite, it is plain enough that an adolescent 
cannot have given hostages to thought. It is scarce less plain 
that, if he had reached categories, habituations were likely to 
have played substitute for reflection, with the result that con- 
tingencies would tend to rate important. Now, the persistence 
of eighteenth-century modes in Britain the Pre-Raphaelite 
movement (c. 1860), an early symptom of discontent favoured 
the survival of neat oppositions, which governed even those who 
sat in the seats of the mighty. Without more ado, then, I deem 
it evident that I had never encountered "the real thing" by 
eighteen or thereby; above all, the idea of development had not 
arisen for judgment. Take the political sphere as an example: I 
was quite unaware that, as Professor Cappon says admirably, 
"Carlyle's universal is far deeper than any optimistic or pessi- 
mistic, Conservative or Radical theory of life/' 1 Accordingly, 

1 Philosophical Essays Presented to John Watson, p. 30 (1922). 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 393 

there was every reason why I should succumb to the "seething 
zymosis" 1 of Caird's teaching. 

To begin with, one was removed from the arena of fragmentary 
polemics to a region where the torrid onsets of current opinion 
fell flat. Professor MacCunn may testify for me, because he 
conveys the ictus exactly: 'The effect produced on the majority 
of the class was as if we were witnessing the creation of a new 
world. The dead-weight of custom and tradition was insensibly 
lifted, and we felt that for the first time we had begun to see 
things as they are/' 2 This is the unanimous testimony of pupils. 
And the secret? In the first place, a negative answer may serve 
to disperse dusty cobwebs spun since. It was not discipular 
Hegelianism! As I have said elsewhere, "attempt to range him 
with Hegel's pupils and colleagues, in the attractive rows of 
Right, Left, or Centre, and you find at once that he eludes your 
complacent attentions. The national temper and traditions of 
the Scot vary so fundamentally from those of the Swabian, the 
philosophical situation in Britain during the rule of Gladstone 
was so different from the speculative excitement in the Prussia 
of Stein and Hardenberg, that simple reproduction of the one 
spirit by the other is an idea too naive for serious consideration.'^ 
Positively, Bosanquet has conveyed the secret in a phrase it 
was "the sense of an exalted quest. "4 The breadth and significance 
of Philosophy were brought home to us through persistent use 
of the historical method backed by encyclopaedic humanism. 
Unyielding distinctions "subject" and "object," a priori and 
a posteriori, "finite" and "infinite," and the rest vanished; the 
several doctrines whereof we had been making hard-shell finali- 
ties took their relative places in a developing whole. Venerable 
convictions might be modified or justified or condemned; be 
the consequence what it might, one must face the task of inquiry. 
Agglomerative or anachronistic theories must give way to forth- 
right interpretation guided by the sense of a whole informing the 

Cf. Sir Henry Jones and J. H. Muirhead, The Life and Philosophy of 
Edward Caird, pp. 89 f . 

Op. cit. t p. 249. 3 VI sup., p. 130. 

4 Proceedings British Academy, 1907-08, p. 383. 



304 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

parts. We learned that silent, transforming influences alter and, 
at length, bring to light the internal significance of particular 
events whether "ideas" or "things" in a continuous process. 
Aught worth the names "science" or "philosophy" is an expres- 
sion of the nature of those who think and, no less, of the objects 
of their thought. Portions of experience set over against one 
another mark stages, so interwoven that we proceed from rela- 
tions in "reality" to comprehension of these relations by 
"thought." Most startling and beneficial for the theologically 
minded Scot, "any necessity for an irruption of the spiritual into 
the natural world would seem inconsistent with the idea that 
the latter is spiritual in its own right." 1 It were superfluous to 
elaborate further, for the revolution wrought subtly by a 
seminal teacher cannot be conveyed verbally to those who 
never knew him in the flesh. Suffice it to say that the stress of 
readjustment, coupled with the drudgery incident to the com- 
petitive academic system, broke my physical strength, and my 
Wandenmg began. 

Familiarity with French headed me for Paris, where, finding 
no philosophical stimulus, I gave myself to study, of the origins 
of Christianity especially, to mastering the spoken tongue, and, 
later, to reading scholastic philosophy with a Jesuit father. 
Four months in Rome, the ancient rather than the mediaeval city 
casting the spell, a couple of months in Florence, with a natural 
change to the story of the Renaissance, and return to Paris over a 
summer, completed the tale of my first wanderings. So far as I 
can judge, France and Italy left no mark on my thought, although 
they did much to broaden my equipment. Still unable for full 
work on return to Glasgow, but compelled to keep Terms, I 
heard Caird again. He was busy with the sad task of preparing 
Green's Prolegomena to Ethics for publication, and giving a new 
set of lectures suggested in part by this work. Due, no doubt, 
to the narrower scope of the subject, the first fine rapture hardly 
recurred. Moreover, I had diverged into philosophy of religion, 
and was beginning to feel that the exultant confidence in reason 
which had enchanted at the first blush, might be less invulnerable 
1 Jones and Muirhead, op t cit. t p. 181. 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 895 

than I had suspected. Believing that philosophy of religion 
demands acquaintance with technical theology, I heard the 
theological professors regularly. Three were scholars of large 
acquirement; indeed, William Purdie Dickson, the polymath of 
the university, was resorted to by foreign investigators fre- 
quently. I garnered a great deal from them, but, seeing that 
none possessed what, for want of a better phrase, one may call 
transitive personality, I was able to pursue my inquiries in my 
own way, free from the romanticism of discipleship. Individual- 
istic by temperament, I imagine this was just what I desired; 
in any case, it has been my habit ever since. I am unaware that 
my long association with Veitch, whose assistant I became on 
graduation (1884), left definite mark; it did compel me to give 
instruction in logic for a decade no bad thing. I resided twice in 
Germany for some months. Lotze's massive caution and gracious 
manner wrought upon me for a moment ; his philosophy left me 
cold. So far as I could make out, he joined Being to Thought 
ethically and, for this reason, was never comfortable with Nature. 
Hence, I was more affected by the example of his magnificent 
equipment than by his irenical temper. I continued along my own 
path, getting numerous knocks for my pains, but discovering 
that, in the things of the mind, the price paid is a large portion 
of value received. Possibly I was civilized enough to sacrifice 
immediate desires to future benefits I trust so. In any case, I 
held fast to one idea which I owed to Caird that the world is a 
unit, and that distinctions are artifices of convenience. For this 
reason and, unquestionably, because of my intellectual experience 
otherwise, I came to labour in border-line subjects, becoming 
more and more convinced that (i) "a true and valuable idealism 
can be reached only through the interpretation of the data of 
experience by the special sciences, and the reinterpretation of 
the results of these by philosophy 1 ' 1 ; and that (2) special atten- 
tion must be given to "history as ideas," with consequent elabora- 
tion of the human sciences. In other words, the more one rational- 
izes nature and history by research, the more one finds unsolved 

1 E. Caird in The Progress of the Century (American edition), p. 170 
(1901). 



396 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

problems. Initiation, whatever its seductive delights, deceives if 
it be mistaken for culmination. The inner process binding the 
whole is "the real thing" ; and progress depends upon penetration 
of the symbols known to us as "events." Truth is to be found 
in the history of human experience or not at all. In short, 
philosophy is no pseudo-science, but the temper of mind which 
attempts to think things together. Accordingly, if premature 
syntheses are to be avoided, it must wait upon "things," wait, 
particularly, till the sciences, human and natural, have reached 
a point where the philosophical implications can be dodged no 
longer. I presume that the practical facts of life from 1884 till 
1906, say, served to confirm this attitude. 

In 1886 I was appointed to the independent lectureship at 
Queen Margaret College (the Glasgow college for women). The 
double duties incident to this and to my assistantship, together 
with the necessity for supplementing a meagre salary, interfered 
with publication; on the other hand, elapsing time enabled me 
to conserve my spiritual independence the main issue. After 
long negotiations, I succeeded Professor Dewey at Michigan in 
1896. Adjustment to the enormous changes, while most stimu- 
lating, took heavy toll of ten years, during which, moreover, I 
became immersed in encyclopaedic work, particularly in the 
anxious consultations preliminary to the Encyclopaedia of Religion 
and Ethics. In this period, likewise, the deaths of my father and 
mother within a few months shook me profoundly. 

Through thick and thin, I have striven to keep my skirts clear 
of all cliques, and to ensure that no pupils of mine should ever 
band themselves into a "school," proliferating manifestos designed 
to put outsiders "in their proper places." The petty world of local 
lights, admiring friends and, by contrast, depreciatory enemies, 
gets between men and their wits. Not thus, but by quiet work 
alone, can advances come. Another facet from my angular 
tradition, and I have done. Universities crave men of good will 
who give themselves unsparingly to pupils. Paraphrasing Goethe, 
the teacher who has life in him feels himself to be here for their 
sakes, not for the public. In our present mood, we have something 
to emulate in nay, to divine from the British on this score. 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 897 

Better a mature, serene spirit than a superfluous volume. The 
immediate job is to persuade the youth that one's subject really 
matters, and, this done, the intangible reward of souls to one's 
hire rather than of tangible pages to one's name more than 
suffices. For "production" of human relations between teacher 
and taught happens to be the sole defence of universities against 
a common type of criticism. Accomplish it even in a measure, 
and "recognition," the itch of those who lack moral stamina, 
can be foregone cheerfully. 

IV 

Knowledge of the pit whence I was digged may help others to 
realize my disabilities, to forecast my spiritual voyage of dis- 
covery, not yet ended. Let me confess to a lifelong, insatiable 
curiosity, still strong upon me, and that, thanks to it probably, 
I have been and am attracted to philosophy for the light shed 
upon the mental and cultural experience of men. But "philo- 
sophy" and "experience" are dubious terms; the more they evade 
definition, the more they need to be humanized. By "experience," 
then, I understand everything covered by the clumsy word 
"mentality," which includes much besides bare intelligence or 
reason, a feeble though yeasty element. We must take account of 
temperament, character, and socialized adjustments, indeed of 
all factors and qualities, no matter how elusive, hidden under 
the deceitful label "personality." Again, your philosopher cannot 
divest himself of the personal equation. So, I confess impenitence 
regarding "philosophy." If it does not mean metaphysics, then 
it is hardly worth while; any "human science" might masquerade 
for it, contemporary fashion furnishing proof. Perhaps a little 
specification might be advantageous. 

The confession, that one has no philosophy of his own, happens 
to be compatible with the circumstance that any philosophy 
demands individual effort and singular outlook. It is easy to say 
that philosophy embodies a search for first principles, or a funda- 
mental view of things, or a general theory of reality, and so 
forth. If these phrases intimate that it must take all knowledge 



398 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

for province, the impracticable side of the case emerges; if they 
hint the theoretical nature of the quest as an issue of intellectual 
urge, then one can echo Goethe: 

Das weit Zerstreute sammelt sein Gemuth, 
Und sein Gefiihl belebt das Unbelebte. 

Nevertheless, perils beset this function, and, seeing they arise 
precisely from the Whole or, if you please, Absolute, clamorous 
temptations ensue. Examples may serve to underline the point. 
One may agree with Mr. James Stephens that "in most poems 
there is an intellectual content, an emotional content, and a 
third content for which we have no name: what Keats meant 
when he said, 'Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are 
sweeter/ ... It is that unheard rhythm which is the poetry in 
the poem." Similarly, in Gothic architecture, calculable statics 
furnish the intellectual content, the willing suspension of the stone 
the emotional; beyond these, however, lies the mystical "yearn- 
ing to create a supersensuous world of spiritual expression." l 
Now, it is customary to affirm that the average man has a philo- 
sophy; in other words, he does adjust his affairs to a world where 
stable recurrences maintain themselves, and he does obey or 
break the controls of a socio-ethical order, sharing or antagonizing 
current norms. So, too, on a higher because more deliberate level, 
the investigator assumes and, in experiment, tries to guarantee 
the "thisness" of his objects, that he may generalize; in like 
manner, the patriot or partisan sacrifices self for "the cause." 
The intellectual and emotional contents are plain enough. But 
a Whole of some sort lurks nearby "unheard" let us admit the 
mystery. Dangers multiply forthwith. The pervasive something 
beckons, inviting capture. Hence the specious insinuation of its 
homogeneousness with us, and of our consequent capacity to 
deploy ultimate intelligibility at a word of command. Intuition, 
if not imagination, syncopates labour ex datis, and complexities 
are apt to be dealt short shrift. Of course, I am well aware that 
emphasis upon the Infinite, Absolute, Self-consciousness, Logos, 
or what you will, may favour desirable elasticity of thought, 
1 Cf. Wilhelm Worringer, Formprobltme der Gothik (1920). 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 399 

tending to break down conventional distinctions with their 
attractive, if commonplace, simplifications. Notwithstanding, a 
bland suspicion lingers that lapses into rhetoric of the unutterable 
may occur, more comforting than illuminative. Sober reflection 
is in duty bound to stand them off; nay, it has so striven these 
last thirty years. 

The insurrection against the Locke-Mill-Spencer tradition, 
already at high tide in my youth, presupposed this dynasty, 
historically remote to-day. A later generation may judge it to 
have overshot the mark, like all revolts. Hence, the "decisive 
rejection of representative ideas in favour of directly apprehended 
unities bred a fresh revolt, often termed "new" a recommenda- 
tion, I presume. As a matter of fact, some of us, being recalcitrant 
pupils, felt its undertow forty years ago. I recognize the difficulty 
of dealing with a past marked by extraordinary discontinuity, 
but plead that I am asked to make my confession. Well, I felt in 
particular that the opposition between an external ' 'material" 
world and an internal "spiritual" world might have been over- 
come too cavalierly; that formulae and true categories might 
have been imposed upon phenomena arbitrarily; that refractory 
events might have been pigeon-holed when not neglected. I 
knew that in the name of geistliche order, a vast web of deduction 
had been spun whence escape, however embarrassing, had 
become imperative. Be this as it may, the quest of the Epigoni 
for unity was not immune to change ; no cause for wonder, when 
the numerous discoveries and hypotheses in the physical, bio- 
logical, and social sciences, to say nothing of psychology, are 
recalled. Nor is this by any means the whole tale, for we dare not 
omit reckoning with the progressive secularization of life, which 
has played a role of greater magnitude than is recognized in some 
quarters. Consider that "whatever the implication of it may be, 
it is true that almost any sixty-year-old [i.e. till circa 1860] 
collection of letters deals very largely with theology, whereas any 
similar modern collection does not do so at all"; or, going into a 
very different gallery, con again the "Concluding Remarks" to 
Bradley's Ethical Studies (1876). And, if you care to jump a long 
century, take a Statute of the Seatonian Prize (1738) at Newton's 



400 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

university: "Which subject shall, for the first year, be one or 
other of the perfections or attributes of the Supreme Being, and 
so the succeeding years, till the subject be exhausted. 1 ' With such 
prepossessions, it was altogether explicable that the intelligibility 
of the universe should have been taken for granted, if not baldly, 
then with grateful optimism; that the natural inference to a 
regnant intelligence should have proven congenial; and that, 
with this temper abroad, the doctrine of the "subjection of all 
things to the Divine Logos' 1 should have been held to vindicate 
the "witness" of the thought of man to the thought of God. 
Briefly, a faith, the more vital that it was itself a protest, 
blossomed forth as a consistent, rational account of the ultimate. 
Thus, a very ancient temptation gained new lease on life; the 
presence of the Logos overshadowing, changes shrunk into their 
shell abashed, and human spontaneity seemed to receive undue 
chastening. Accordingly, despite powerful contrary influences, I 
was prepared to consider objections with an open mind, if not 
altogether to see to it that criticism, however unavoidable, might 
be sympathetic, even generous, to its own gain. In a word, 
natural dialectic was bound to take its ironical course. What 
more natural than a reversion to Hume! It was evident that 
many developments were conspiring to resuscitate his caution: 
"So narrow are the bounds of human understanding, that little 
satisfaction can be hoped for in this regard. . . . Indulge your 
passion for science [says nature], but let your science be human, 
and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. 
... Be a philosopher, but, amidst all your philosophy, be still 
a man/' 

The persistent diremption of experience favours "half-and-half" 
standpoints. An eminent physiologist said to me once, "If only 
our science were like physics, we would get somewhere." He had 
in mind rationalistic completion dependent upon an "absolute" 
terminus a quo: a substantive something, proof against human 
fallibility, furnishes the firm foundation. In like manner, the 
doctrine that "Truth" belongs to a non-human universe, whence 
it is thrust upon mundane events, derived warrant, if not 
authority, from the opposition between Appearance and Reality 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 401 

Demurrers were in order forthwith on both counts. To begin 
with, when one comes to "matters of fact," are indubitable 
necessary and universal truths possible? Psychology drifted 
toward the negative, and the denial had been accentuated by 
the tendency of evolution to obliterate distinctions held inviolable 
by classical science and philosophy. 'The sciences are coming 
together" and, as an accompaniment of their synthesis, the 
continuity of man with ' 'external' ' things, with other organic 
beings, and with society was blazing fresh trails. The One and the 
Many, Flux and Being, returned from a dim past to confrontation 
by stern judges who said that, as perdurable forms beyond 
experience, they are so much moonshine. Emerging from severe 
discipline in history of philosophy, and from the deliquescencies of 
religionsgeschichtliche theology, one was receptive to the American 
suggestion that "the brain often runs away with the heart's best 
blood/' Moreover, these were the brave days when Schopenhauer 
seemed to merit serious attention, when Nietzsche swung scintil- 
lating athwart the horizon, when William James's The Principles 
of Psychology aroused joyous, if unholy, glee in the natural man. 
Perhaps a valid, because concrete, order might be descried did 
one bethink him of actual human activities. Influences unfavour- 
able to systematic philosophy were telling their tale, the emotional 
was asserting its rights, and romanticism attracted, allowing 
room for idiosyncrasy. The soul had starved on the rich food 
offered to the mind. "Die Scheidewand zwischen Fabel und 
Wahrheit, zwischen Vergangenheit und Gcgenwart ist einge- 
f alien: Glauben, Pliant asie und Poesie schliessen die innerste 
Welt auf." Problems that admit neither solution nor escape held 
the foreground for a time, spiritual and practical freedom having 
been set by the ears. In vain: once more the suspicion would not 
down, that the scale of man's universe was being missed. Dodging 
Nietzsche's "spiritual rat-catchers," one had merely wandered 
into a world where Nature makes nothing but leaps. To wit, our 
world is "on the make," in so far forth it is a world where practice 
spells betterment, if scarcely perfection; in any case, adaptations 
supervene. Hence, whatever our hypothesis about the relations 
between sensa and thought, our concern is with empirical par- 

VOL. II CC 



402 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

ticulars, never with alleged universals, and, fitness being the test, 
truth reduces to economic grip of the opportune. A prudential 
relativism may compound for and with the sins of the whole 
people. To make a long story short, your adventure among the 
workaday will amount to achievement of truth. This gained, 
you need not care if you substitute a nostrum compounded of 
moralizing, scolding and, be it said, gossip for the spacious 
afflatus of perplexed Teutons; if your utilitarian diligence, cum- 
bered about much serving, lacks distinction; if your contempt for 
history runs to the new for novelty's sake; if you handle high 
issues crudely, intent upon temporary advantage. As a romantic 
Dionysus playing hob with the eternal verities, you cut a fine 
figure but, after all, are you more than a successful functionary, 
shouting solvitur crambo^ Truly, grave misgivings perturbed. 
Admitting to the full timely reminders loosed by the "moderns," 
the fact remains that a point of reference, a universe, will not 
down. Definite rejection of one theory of knowledge, the copy 
theory, say, removes no ultimate problem, and the thin air of 
individual consciousness proves too ratified for persistent norms. 
The humanization of knowledge, genial though it be, may have 
cost too much. For a world "more meant against than meaning" 
has its revenge in the reduction of values to mere approvals or 
disapprovals. 

Approaching from the human side, it is natural to conceive 
experience as the sphere of desire and, mayhap, perfection a 
full-orbed world in miniature, entrancing its immediate denizens. 
But queazy moods follow when, psychological deliverances seeming 
arbitrary, we scent victimization by vague, perhaps irrelevant, 
opinion. Thereupon dialectic swings away from 

A doctrinal and witty hieroglyphic 
Of a blessed kingdom 

to the rigid outlines associated with substantiality. Granted that 
accident produced social arrangements, and that the sciences of 
society linger in the rudimentary stage, are we not driven by 
cautious opportunism itself to seek securer footing? Profuseness, 
chaos, even anarchy, maybe masked by "working conceptions"; 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 408 

but a reliable vehicle independent of Mind or minds, with prin- 
ciples of its own unaffected by psychological states, portends 
deliverance from arbitrariness. Concrete realities replace dis- 
continuity and dependence here, and this not by any rationalizing 
magic in the temper of eighteenth-century materialistic utopian- 
ism. Betide contingencies how they may, Science progresses, and 
can be drafted to furnish stability. Things are not amorphous, 
and ' 'natural law," thanks to the wonderful extension of the 
inherently calculable, bestows a "closed system' 1 promising 
certainty. The weary generation of the nineties, having had its 
fill of disconcerting men of to-morrow, sought relief from flinging 
"sentience, 11 "ideas, 1 ' "actions/ 1 "values/' and what not into the 
pot for luck. The reign of law might be risked for the benefits of 
practicable limitation in der Beschrdnkung zeigt sich erst der 
Meister. Moreover, once safe within the laboratory, a succession 
of engrossing technicalities will ward off delusions of grandeur. 
We even dare be fussy, and yet remain admirable in modest 
veracity about emergent discoveries. To what purpose ? 

Great as are the satisfactions to be derived from progress in 
"natural knowledge/' they nevertheless leave the problem un- 
solved, both ends out of sight, never out of mind. For, if one 
abandon the major general questions in favour of mastery over 
special cases one merely abandons them! If conclusions com- 
manding universal assent be obtainable, the more tenuous the 
content which the assent supports. "Laws" of cycles (e.g. 
conservation of mass, gravitation), like statistical laws of, say, 
gases, avoid, and properly avoid, the "will-o'-the-wisp" of ulti- 
mates; indeed, I understand that they throw no light even upon 
quanta. If biological investigation be stabilized by adoption of 
the physico-chemical hypothesis, mind still eludes. If attention 
be concentrated upon systems of particulars, evidently objects 
which, as inferred, are at least as important as those perceived, 
remain for judgment. If we "progress backwards," referring every 
phenomenon to a lower-grade predecessor as sufficient explana- 
tion, what becomes of our Evolution, which involves "new" 
consequents? If categories themselves be "non-mental," what 
can be said of mind? Then, too, must one reduce human history 



404 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to a mere succession, on the schillrend ground that it does not 
repeat itself; or are we at the old game of appeal to a simple 
transcendent? Are we pleading preoccupation with method or, 
if not, just indulging hardy conjecture? In sum, then, we are 
limiting ourselves to white and black, to light and shade, neglect- 
ful of deeper perspective. And this turns out unsatisfactory, for, 
after all, modern science seems fertile in broad hints that the 
universe depends much more upon mind than we had dared to 
suppose. In any case, insistence that attainment of truth must 
precede every other aim is a two-edged proposition entirely 
outside scientific inquiry, on the one hand, and, in addition, itself 
an open question, on the other. Thus, the "appeal to fact" threw 
me back upon the "second remove from fact/ 1 warned, however, 
against some dangers of traffic 

With the land that produced one Kant with a K, 
And many a Cant with a C. 

This synoptic retrospect no doubt points a moral plainer 
to veterans than to recruits, for it savours of the doubts and 
despondencies which, the age controlling, have assailed one for 
forty years, and led to numerous blunders. The perfervid expecta- 
tions characteristic of the great post-Kantians, equivalent almost 
to an evangel, had faded; challenges like the Aufklamng, or 
common sense, or "Force/' or "Matter" were no more. In fine, 
the dynamic prospect of a fresh era consorted ill with a period of 
disintegration. The attraction of spiritual things, diminished by 
the allurements of political, industrial, and naturalistic concerns, 
seemed a philosophical hindrance to some. Preliminary, if not 
quite subsidiary puzzles, hypostatized in special disciplines, were 
preempting the foreground. Avid for "new material," we had 
bogged ourselves in erudition (mea culpa). Fragmental systems, 
relevant, of course, to portions wrenched from experience, eclipsed 
the system of the Whole, and we pawed over sensibilities, especi- 
ally the sensibilities of our abnormal neighbours, in place of 
trying to understand life. We all belonged with the Afterborn 
not that we were laudatores temporis acti> much less disciples; 
rather because, in explicable bewilderment, we played King Log 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 405 

to fundamental problems. Habituation to specific spheres, fenced 
off as private claims by ' 'expert 1 ' groups, tended to discourage 
bold demand for harmony between the warring factors of experi- 
ence resultant upon constant analysis. Above all, sense of ignor- 
ance in face of unsuspected complexities manifest alike in thought 
and nature, enfeebled will to synthesis. A "subjective 11 and a 
"natural" unity appeared compossible, but larger integration 
abashed perhaps it was beyond reach. 

Nevertheless, it would be folly to sit down and cry over spilt 
milk, as if the recent past had been resultless, mistaken, or even 
fatuous. Agreed, there is nothing like general acceptance of any 
philosophy as true and, till a common doctrine disengages itself 
from the present welter (as has happened before), this confusion 
may or must persist. On the other hand, the diremption of 
experience has been accentuated, masses of information have 
come to light, which await the process of rethinking, and flat 
uniformity is out of the question. Stated otherwise, the depart- 
mentalizing of the world is serving a purpose in so far as it 
renders organic to experience many things hitherto held "exter- 
nal" or non-significant or negligible. As a result, we are bound 
to read the immanent cypher on a broader, profounder scale 
when and if the general spirit moves. As always, perspective will 
take care of itself. Some bemoan the emphasis upon science. 
Well, the "scientific period" is not new, seeing it dates from 
the seventeenth century, when Galileo, Kepler, Harvey, and 
Descartes seized the torch for transmission to Newton and Locke, 
whose profound influence upon Leibniz and Kant made the 
"reign of law" a vital issue. Popular estimate notwithstanding, 
Darwinism left things where they were. Generalization of "law" 
raised interesting queries about evident gaps and possible excep- 
tions; the essential problem loomed up the same, if vaster and 
more complex in detail as sciences displaced Science. Nay, while 
speculative thought petrified on the convenient level of this or 
that naturalism, the ultimate difficulty posed itself the more 
in the old way. Opposites crystallized in separation, their mutual 
entanglement missed amid manifold "research," and heaping 
information, impressive in itself, melodramatic in its practical 



406 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

applications, took the place swept and garnished by historical 
criticism. Competing types of naturalism united, however, by the 
dogma of an "objective" order alien from yet determining all 
human activities, held the field for a moment; whereupon valua- 
tion theories arose to conserve a punctum stans whence, brandish- 
ing his ideals, man might hurl defiance at the inimical or heedless 
march of nature. Our temptations and, at a pinch, recourses were 
subordination of thought to the stream of things, with relief 
in exploiting curiosities, always in the naive hope of getting 
knowledge; or postulation of a law for man his very own 
with appeal to "axiology" where Worths, whatever their pre- 
tensions to universality, could be "explained" as accompaniments 
of local or temporary conditions, and could therefore be con- 
scripted as further proofs of the naturalism they were designed 
to offset! No matter how suggestive, nay, comforting for the 
nonce, they merely served to cloud the fundamental issue that 
of TravreXojs ov TravreX&s yvcoarov or, better, of the Novs 
considered as dpxn ^d reAos" alike. The very terms hint the 
age-old, insistent scope of the philosophical quest. Not that 
philosophy must "go back," but that it must surmount its 
timidity toward a process and attitude far different from those 
of science. 



This recital, more engrossing doubtless to the writer than to 
the reader, may close with a few tentative remarks. 

The notion of "progress," especially of continuous progress, is 
abandoned, for the simple reason that man progresses by deepen- 
ing of spiritual insight. Besides, paradox though it be, the means 
devised to guard results often get between men and their real 
selves. To take a case. Since 1840, we have been reproducing, if 
on a larger scale, the ferment of the period from Ficino to Hooker. 
Similar tendencies toward "naturalism," similar confusions, and 
a similar disposition to slur, if not minimize, the problem pre- 
sented by man's double nature, have prevailed. The need for a 
synthesis such as the post-Kantians formulated, but freed from 
their soaring romanticism, has come full circle. 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 407 

As concerns dominant ideas, there would seem to have been 
but two epochs: Greece, with culmination in Plato and, for certain 
aspects, in Aristotle; Mediaevalism, with culmination in the 
Scholastic system and Dante. To say that the two were mutually 
exclusive would be to strain the truth; still it is clear that the 
"pagan" underlined what the Roman Christian depressed, and 
vice versa. We have now reached the stage of a reinterpretation, 
where the chief interests of each confront one another, their 
respective implications more fully evident. The Greeks founded 
science. As with us, so with them, the determined attack upon 
empirical questions developed outside, possibly beyond,, the 
sanctions of organized religion. A recoil was to be anticipated! 
and it is full-throated early in the millenarianism of "the day of 
the Lord/' due "to come as a thief in the night/' 1 This universe 
of discourse, with every bound and aspiration, finds final expres- 
sion in the Divine Comedy. Human curiosity has been trying to 
recapture Greek objectivity ever since, aided yet hampered by 
wealth of detail and consequent acute consciousness of difficulties 
unknown to the ancients. We still yearn for a synthesis in their 
temper, not rejecting succour from the Ages of Faith, our deep 
disturbance by the sense of an "unexplored remainder" impelling. 
Reverting to our wider knowledge: "The lifetime of a fixed star 
is estimated at approximately one million million . . . years, a 
period so long that the whole duration of the world's history from 
the days of the ancient Egyptians down to our own time amounts 
to not even one per cent, of the millionth part of the life-history 
of our solar system." 2 This granted, we can but agree with 
Lotze, "how universal but, at the same time, how subordinate is 
the part which mechanism plays in nature."3 "Objective" reality 
is evidently mixed, and no part torn from relation to the Whole 
satisfies, however unitary. Your star-history, vastly homogeneous 
and quantitative, cannot say to your Egyptian-American history, 
minutely heterogeneous and qualitative, "I have no need of 
thee." "Matter" may be "everlasting," but so are the rules 

1 2 Pet. iii. 10. 

A. Haas in The Scientific Monthly, February 1928, p. 145. 

3 Of. Metaphysic, Book II, chap. viii. 



408 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

enabling this predication; indeed, as man interprets them, 
they attract him because they furnish a simple or "closed" 
universe of Erhaltung. Seductive as immanence on this wise may 
be, it remains thoroughly abstract. The post-Kantian doctrine 
of a transcendental power internal to history, whereby the 
individual is transmuted by the presence of the universal, posed 
the metaphysical problem, concrete by comparison because 
revealing the possibilities of Entfaltnng. Far from external 
adjustment or composition, we have another issue "creative/ 1 if 
you like in any event, commanding recognition of fresh 
imponderables. 

. Following upon the double-entry philosophy of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, the question of synthesis became so 
urgent as to overwhelm other considerations between 1795 and 
1840. Thereafter, Lotze the single serious exception, this was 
deserted, then flouted through two generations. The "claims" 
of the mechanical and the spiritual aspects of experience, having 
taken their several ways separately, are upon us again, with the 
result that the task attempted by Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel 
has developed new urgency. It is necessary to set forth some 
defensible scheme embodying the irreducible attitudes of thought 
whereby men overleap the limits set by common sense and the 
particular sciences. We have shirked the metaphysical pre- 
suppositions incident to moral and religious conviction, post- 
poning them in favour of study of the phenomena of nature, of 
history, and of psychological process, to the exclusion of Geist 
or whatever you care to term the most inclusive order knowable 
by man. Symptomatic of this, there has been much uncritical 
employment of fundamental general ideas when dealing with 
individuation of "natural facts"; so, too, in psychology, in the 
human sciences and, we may as well confess, in epistemology. 
What avails it to treat the "subject," and even the "object" 
analytically approached, as if they were merely continua and 
nothing more? Why should we cozen ourselves into supposing 
that endless composition and concrete organization are identical 
universes, presented under identical categories? Partial systems, 
excellent prefaces as they may be, deceive when they masquerade 



ROBERT MARK WENLEY 409 

as complete or, worse luck, the sole totalities. Let information 
proliferate as it may, philosophy cannot forgo assault upon the 
primary difficulty. Itself a stage bound to change and pass, it 
bids us rest content with nothing less than the boldest application 
of an immanent principle which, no matter how intimative of 
an "unexplored margin/ 1 is not antagonistic to, because rooted 
in knowledge of the muddy vesture. But, imagination and faith 
suggesting, it would urge inclusive vision, seeing that spiritual 
things are as veritably part of man's reach as the commonest 
details recognizable by irreflective sight. The reaction against 
science, as it has been called whether "idealistic" or other 
boots little brings the two types of system to confrontation; 
not without hope of advance beyond dour opposition, seeing 
there is a mutual emphasis upon immanent principle, whether 
the object examined be the "natural" or the "human" world. 
Under the circumstances, quest is the sole path to truth; its 
stadia are Truth : in so far forth we have it. Solution of the problem 
must be correlative to comprehension of it; we can but seek 
soberly for coherence, eschewing confident remarks on "ultimate" 
reality. 

The untidiness and unpredictableness of life persist; but so do 
human ideals. Consider ordinary folk, especially those who know 
how to keep their heads and tempers, betide what may. Faithful 
to an ideal, they have attained just what philosophy would 
compass serene rationality. Their mastery bears intimation, 
for it hints a region beyond the changeful fashions of theory, yet 
undisturbed by distant profundities. Face to face with the 
permanent in them, we admit that we know neither whence nor 
how comes the insight capable of saving man from his dire 
predicament as a feeble or, in moments of rude strength, ferine 
mortal. For this very reason, one is suspicious of all, sceptical 
about most systems promising immediate realization of the 
philosophical aim explanation of our universe (never the uni- 
verse) in terms of human consciousness, and implying that 
personality on its "creative" side provides the best clue. Such a 
view may well be true or, again, it may be illusory. But these 
judgments miss the mark if the position defies outflanking. 



410 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

Contemporary Manichacism, overborne by the "large injustice" 
of Nature, forgetful of the Great Mother, serves to warn that 
"creative" personality may not be identified offhand with the 
God of religion. In a realistic age, the host of heaven, earth an 
inconsiderable partner, play the leads, puny mortals momentary 
and powerless by contrast. Admirable, even platitudinous, this 
view happens to be off focus when one elicits the ideal dimension 
present even in human triviality, whence the commonplace 
derives splendour. Philosophy seeks atmosphere and perspective 
in this quarter, because only thus can it escape "reality" become 
a caput mortuum. Taking manifest human discontinuities into 
account, the formidable and persistent problems concern unifi- 
cation of knowledge and its relation to faith. The key lies in the 
nature of the ideal What factors are to be designated "bodily, 11 
what referred to "mentality/' is a preliminary, mayhap a minor 
question of information. Information, with the practical applica- 
tions resultant upon it, may effect much to mitigate our earthly 
lot ; they cannot save us from ourselves, because powerless to 
save in the right way. We are just learning this as our material 
civilization speeds its headlong course. We are beginning to ask, 
Are we, then, in any respects better or wiser than our "slow" 
ancestors? More changes are said to have occurred since 1840 
than in the preceding millennium; at what price? Be all these as 
they may, the most inclusive Whole conceivable belongs in the 
region of the ideal. If you project a theory of reality, the ideals 
embraced and subserved by men will surely confute it, unless 
you have allowed for their dynamic centrality. The more certain 
--and abstract your "system," the less significance it is likely 
to bear in a final summation. From this point of view, ideals 
constitute the fundamental problems, and relevant statement, 
alterable though it may be by accumulation of contingent data, 
is more than half the battle. Quite probably, greed for "new" 
angles of approach, pervasive in a time of confusion, makes too 
many concessions to various temporary attitudes posing as 
"common sense." Nevertheless, the helpful or apposite angle 
sifts itself out from time to time. The saint does evoke things 
of good report, the artist does evoke loveliness; less fortunate, 



ROBERT MARK VVENLEY 411 

the philosopher attempts to evoke truth. None of these evoca- 
tions are susceptible of proof, proof being superfluous! In the 
beginning and at the end, the thinker imposes belief upon him- 
self. Idealistic in the sense suggested, his idealism is always 
aborning, never altogether born. Seeing that ideals are poly- 
morphic, the quest after unity never ceases, and it never needs 
to begin. Partial unity being an eternal present, disillusion takes 
to flight before authoritative, tenable conviction. Approximation 
is afoot and, to this extent, the ideal manifests inherent objec- 
tivity a satisfying prevision. The prevalent immanence dictates 
the condition of any possible transcendence, the one actual, the 
other ever actualizing, both together attesting a definite nature, 
which happens to be the only Whole that can furnish all the 
terms indispensable to a rounded interpretation. 



PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

Socrates and Christ: a Study in the Philosophy of Religion (Edinburgh 

and London, 1889). 

Aspects of Pessimism (Edinburgh and London, 1894). 
Contemporary Theology and Theism (Edinburgh and New York, 1897). 
Outline Introductory to Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" (New York, 

1897)- 
Kant and his Philosophical Revolution (Edinburgh and New York, 

1910). 

The Anarchist Ideal, and other Essays (Boston and Ann Arbor, 1913). 
The Life of Robert Flint (with Donald Macmillan and otherb) 

(London, 1914). 
The Life and Work of George Sylvester J\I orris: a Chapter in the History 

of American Thought in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1917). 
Stoicism and Its Influence (Boston and New York, 1924). 

Editorial and Contributor's Work: The Dictionary of Philosophy and 
Psychology (edited by J. Mark Baldwin) ; and Encyclopaedia of 
Religion and Ethics (edited by James Hastings), 1898-1908. 



CONFESSIONS 



By FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 

Born 1867; Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia 
. University, New York. 



CONFESSIONS 

As I review the course of my philosophical studies and attempt 
to express the conclusions to which they have led, I am conscious 
of special indebtedness to Aristotle, Spinoza, and Locke among 
the dead and to Santayana among the living. It is to them that 
I repeatedly turn both for refreshment and discipline. They 
represent, I may say, a selection or survival from the forces that 
have influenced me rather than a sequence which my own thinking 
has followed. I cannot name a date when they were first recog- 
nized as controlling. I know, however, that when I began teaching 
at Columbia University in 1902 Aristotle, Spinoza, and Locke had 
already become the philosophers in whom I was most interested, 
and Santayana appeared to me as a brilliant and provoking 
writer. After reading his Life of Reason, which I reviewed for 
the New York Nation, I felt that I had found in it a matchless 
commentary on our human thinking. Since the contributions to 
this volume of essays are admittedly personal and egotistic, I 
may as well say now that the Life of Reason is a book I wish I 
could have written myself. I do not ask Santayana to take this 
as a compliment, for it is a doubtful one. I make the confession 
to indicate that his book is the kind of book which appeals to 
me as genuinely philosophical. For as I understand the Life of 
Reason, it makes no attempt to explain why the life of man 
should be intellectual. It attempts, rather, simply to tell the 
truth about that life. And telling the truth about the life of 
reason and trying to discover what that truth implies seem to 
me to be the business of philosophy. I had reached this convic- 
tion before I read the Life of Reason, but after reading it the 
conviction had received a force and an illumination which it had 
not had before. 

And more than this; my understanding of the history of philo- 
sophy seemed to be enhanced. I felt that I could enter into the 
thoughts of others with a keener and more sympathetic apprecia- 
tion. Indeed, if I may use a chemical figure, the reading of 
Santayana has acted upon my own thoughts like a catalysing 
agent, dissolving them and recombining them in ways better 



416 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

suited to my own satisfaction at least. Two examples may serve 
as illustrative. When I read, "With Aristotle the conception of 
human life is perfectly sound, for with him everything ideal has 
a natural basis and everything natural an ideal fulfilment " 
when I read this, not only did the disorderly writings of the 
Stagerite combine together to produce one impressive effect, 
but what I myself had been clumsily feeling for received a 
clarified and satisfactory expression. In that one sentence was 
revealed what certainly seems to be one of the major tasks of 
philosophy: to exhibit the passage from the natural to the ideal; 
from common sense to reason; from animal love to ideal love; 
from gregarious association to free society; from practice and 
invention to liberal art; from mythology to enlightened religion; 
and from crude cosmologies to that impersonal objectivity found 
in science. In that one sentence, too, I found an acceptable 
standard of criticism, for it seemed to me that ideals are signifi- 
cant as they round out and complete some natural function, and 
that the natural, when cut off from the ideal, must not be looked 
upon as affording by itself any standard of conduct or reason for 
its existence; it is brutally impersonal. And when I read, "Know- 
ledge is not eating and we cannot be expected to devour what 
we mean/' I found the vanities of epistemology exposed more 
conclusively than any laboured exposition of my own had exposed 
them. I could have insisted that ''knowing a world " and "having 
a world to know" are never the same condition, but I could see 
it better with the metaphor to help. To these illustrations I may 
add that reading and re-reading the Dialogues in Limbo has 
become a prized experience in the clarification of my own ideas. 
I must rate that book very high in the philosophical literature 
I have read. 

I have dwelt on my indebtedness to Santayana first because of 
its especial character. The basic ideas of "my philosophy" I use 
the phrase conscious of the egotistical privileges of this essay- 
were laid before I read him. Perhaps it would be more modest 
and even more truthful to say that I think they were. The thing, 
however, of which I am acutely conscious is, that through reading 
him I seem to have won for myself greater freedom and clarity 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 417 

in the handling of my ideas. I think I know better what I am 
about. The scheme which was forming itself in my own mind 
through the study of Aristotle, Spinoza, and Locke in particular, 
became more definite, and it became easier, for myself at least, 
to formulate the chief conviction to which that study had led. 
A synthesis of Aristotle and Spinoza, tempered by the uncompro- 
mising, yet compromised, empiricism of Locke, became something 
which I thought I clearly conceived and which I believed to be 
useful in removing some of the confusion for which modern philo- 
sophy seemed to be clearly responsible. Aristotle's thoroughgoing 
naturalism and his conception of productivity, Spinoza's rigid 
insistence on struct lire, and Locke's doctrine of the acquisition 
of ideas through experience, seemed to afford, when taken 
together, a means of backing up the philosophical enterprise 
with a metaphysics which would be analytical instead of contro- 
versial. If effective ideas are really acquired through experience, 
an analysis of these ideas should reveal something about the 
world in which that experience occurs; and the chief revelations 
seem to be a limiting structure or structures for all events and a 
genuinely productive activity within these limits. The structure 
determines what is possible and the activity determines what 
exists. But this result should not be taken as an absurd dualism 
which starts with two gods and then produces a world through 
their co-operation. Structure and activity are things implied by 
the fact that the world is known and controlled by getting ideas 
through experience. They are arrived at analytically and are not 
invoked as demiurges to account for the world we live in. The 
development of a germ into thoughtful consideration of its habitat 
and of the manner and incidents of its development, is the basal 
fact for every philosopher. He can never get behind it. He can 
only tell the truth about it and try to find out what that truth 
implies. He may explore his world and control it in some measure, 
but he can never find originals which brought it into being. 

All this at the age of sixty seems to me to be so simple as to 
need no elaboration. One's familiarity with one's own line of 
thought begets this illusion. I have to confess like every other 
worker in these mazes of thought that I have entertained in the 

VOL. II DD 



418 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

past, with entire conviction, opinions which I can hold no longer. 
This, if nothing else, should make me recognize that what now 
seems so clear to me may not seem clear at all to others, and 
that I myself may be among those others at a later date. Yet I 
venture to think, even if so thinking savours of contradiction 
and dialectic, that the principle of hesitation which I have just 
expressed is an essential part of the position to which I have 
been led. Hesitation, doubt, perplexity, uncertainty, the sense 
of incompleteness and of more to be done, the prospect and 
probability that one will change one's mind all these things arc 
as real as anything else. The doubtful man is as much a product 
of nature as the confident. Indeed, nothing that happens can be 
convicted of impossibility. There must, consequently, be room 
in one's metaphysics for anything that may happen. This I take 
to be a very solid principle. We may condemn philosophies as 
false, but we cannot impugn their existence. It is easy to claim 
that men ought not to think in certain ways and forget that they 
do think in those ways. Their thinking may be improper, but it is 
clearly not improper from the point of view of its existence or as 
an illustration of nature's productivity. From the point of view 
of existence one might as well accuse the diversified flora and 
fauna of the earth of impropriety. The principle, therefore, that 
there must be room in one's metaphysics for whatever may 
happen or that nothing that happens can be convicted of 
impossibility, seems clearly to imply that our distinctions are 
distinctions within one common field and not between two fields 
which the distinctions make incompatible. Rather clumsily 
expressed, they are distinctions "within" and not distinctions 
between "within and without/' Appearance and reality, truth and 
error, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, are all correlative. An 
existence which did not own them would not be our existence. 
A metaphysics which abolished them would not be a true meta- 
physics, but it would demonstrate them. Even in being false it 
would have a claim on existence. I could boast that my meta- 
physics recognizes this, making it a cardinal principle. Rather 
than boast, however, I would make this the first step in meta- 
physics the recognition that existence is primarily what it is 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 419 

and can neither be explained nor explained away. The most that 
can be done is to find out what it implies. And the great error 
of metaphysicians is the supposition that the implications of 
existence are its causes and lead us to something more funda- 
mental than existence, or prior to it, or in itself irrelevant to it. 

I have, consequently, often called myself a realist, and one of 
a very naive sort. But calling names seems to have parallel 
consequences, whether oneself or others be the object. One is not 
always comfortable with one's associates. The linking name is not 
a marriage ring symbolizing community of bed and board. Yet I 
confess a sympathy with all realists of whatever stripe, even the 
mediaeval and the literary. They are evidently trying to see 
things as they are, even when what they see is selected. Novelists 
often tell us what real life is by telling us about some unfamiliar 
life, and philosophers also often discern real existence in the un- 
familiar. The realism I would urge is one of principle rather than 
one of selection. As a principle it does not dichotomize existence. 
There is, for example, an ancient question, whether a rose is red 
when it is not seen. The answer always has seemed to me to be: a 
red rose is. The colours of roses are not like guesses in Blind 
Man's Buff, and many a rose is born to blush unseen. I can attach 
no meaning to the question: Is the colour of a rose what it is? 
I am too sensible of the fact that I have bought bushes of a 
nurseryman who nor I have not as yet seen the roses they 
will bear. Such experiences may drive us back on the general 
fact of colour and lead us to ask: Do colours exist when they are 
not perceived? It is hard for me to attach a meaning even to this 
question. A dark room may exclude all colours save black when 
the eyes are open, and a similar effect may be produced by binding 
the eyes in a lighted room. And this simple experiment forces 
me to conclude that colour is as much something with the exist- 
ence of which I have nothing to do as it is something with the 
existence of which I have something to do. When I try to find 
out how much I have to do with it, I find that much very little 
no more than the fact that if I did not exist, I would never ask 
such curious questions. I would not ask any questions at all. 
And I cannot possibly conceive what a world is like about which 



420 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

no questions whatever are asked. Furthermore, it seems mon- 
strous to me to conclude that the world is only my world, for 
"my" world means nothing unless distinguished from a world 
not mine. I may distinguish such a world just as I distinguish 
houses which are not mine. A metaphysical distinction, if made 
at all, must be of a similar kind, or it is meaningless. This is what I 
mean by a realism of principle rather than of selection. As I am 
fond of saying, the only universe relevant to inquiry, the only 
universe that exists for purposes of observation, experiment, and 
ratiocination, is the universe of discourse. Any other universe 
is meaningless. If I am challenged to prove this, I point out such 
obvious facts as this: we do not proceed originally from the 
implications of colour to colour, but from colour to its implica- 
tions. The subject-matter of inquiry cannot be called in question. 
Individual existences may be related to one another and com- 
pared, but "the whole of existence" can be related to nothing or 
compared with nothing. 

This is the basic dogma of metaphysics. I cannot remember 
when it first gained possession of me. I am tempted to think that 
I always thought that way. I remember quite distinctly that 
when I first read Berkeley, which was in my college days at 
Amherst, I was troubled over the conflict between the incredi- 
bility of his doctrine and the obvious truth of its foundation. 
Looking back now at the experience, I can formulate it as I 
could not have formulated it then: I was conscious that he 
converted a definition of subject-matter into the cause of its 
existence. He saw clearly enough that existence implies mind in 
some objective sense, but he made mind the creator of what 
exists. In those same days, I had a similar experience with Kant, 
but it was many years before I could say that this synthetic 
philosophy was anything more than a definition of subject- 
matter converted into a wholly incredible explanation of experi- 
ence. And the little I had then of Hegel getting his ideas, not 
through reading but through the fascinating exposition of 
Professor Carman fired my imagination as a little of Hegel did 
that of many of my contemporaries. Glimpses of the organic 
unity of experience were inspiring for minds distracted by an 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 421 

associationist psychology on the one hand and the artificiality of 
the "critical philosophy " on the other. We read no Aristotle in 
those days, and it was only later that I saw that Hegel had done 
little more than turn Aristotle upside down and done it clumsily. 
I am conscious of such early experiences and such later formula- 
tions, but conscious of them as a pretty steady and natural 
development of my thinking unmarked by a sense of violent 
conversion. This development seems to be a line along which I 
have been led rather than a programme ever deliberately adopted. 
This seeming may be one of the illusions which I egotistically 
cherish, but I set it down with the frankness which confessions 
like these inspire. 

I could cite other things more casual, perhaps, than those 
already mentioned. A remark in a cherished copy of Jevons' 
Lessons in Logic stands pencilled with a question mark: "We 
cannot suppose, and there is no reason to suppose, that by the 
constitution of the mind we are obliged to think of things differ- 
ently from the manner in which they are." There is a note to 
the remark: "Discuss light, colour, sound, etc/' The book is a 
heritage from college days and carries the name of a class-mate. 
I must have purloined it. The question mark and the note were 
put there when I taught logic at the University of Minnesota. 
I was very conscious of the hopelessness of an obligation to think 
of things differently from the manner in which they are, and 
ended a contribution to the Essays Philosophical and Psycho- 
logical in Honour of William James with the remark of Jevons. 
When I read, shamelessly, as youth is wont to do, the Essays of 
Matthew Arnold while Professor Shedd lectured on Dogmatic 
Theology at the Union Theological Seminary, there was tucked 
away in my memory one of Arnold 's favourite quotations: 
"Things are what they are and the consequences of them will 
be what they will be; why then should we wish to be deceived?" 
So I take the principle of realism as something pretty well 
ingrained and constitutional in me. Like everybody else, I pride 
myself on a sense of fact. 

I have tried to support this pride by teaching and by the little 
I have written. The principle of realism seems so important to 



422 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

me for metaphysics and philosophy that I have been more busy 
with championing it than with developing it. Yet to keep insisting 
on it seems worth while. It helps me not to wish to be deceived. 
If this world were explained as so many of us philosophers try 
to explain it, it wouldn't be this world at all. It may cry for an 
explanation, but a metaphysician in his wish not to be deceived 
will set that down as one interesting fact about it. He will see 
poetry and religion, and art and society, and morals and science 
and philosophy even, as responses to that cry and be glad and 
not contemptuous of them. He will recognize them as responses, 
confident that when they cease to be such, there will be no 
more world. The cry is essential to what existence is. Nature has 
generated and supports it. With Aristotle we may make it the 
evocation of God's bare presence and rest content with that, for 
God is a rather final explanation of things. But if we do not wish 
to be deceived we will not make him the creator of the world, 
responsible for microbes and men, or try to deduce from his 
nature the way of a man with a maid. We may insist with theo- 
logy that he must be incarnated, born of a virgin, even, to be 
as effective with men as he is with the stars, but we will recognize 
in that insistence a supreme illustration of the cry. The appeal of 
existence will not have ceased. First and fundamentally it is an 
appeal. 

To find it first and fundamentally something else is to acknow- 
ledge oneself a selective realist rather than a realist in principle 
and to have chosen one instance of the natural kinesis instead of 
the character of them all. Matter, atoms, space and time, ions, 
electrical charges, the stable bodies and rhythmic motions of the 
physical world, the microscope's revelations of the mutations of 
the seeds and carriers of subsequent developments, and the 
natural evolution of living organisms, must bulk large in one's 
thinking. They make an imposing spectacle, suited to arouse 
both the admiration of a poet and the curiosity of a scientist. It 
is trivial to ask which treats them the more adequately unless 
one specifies the purpose for which they are treated. The heavens 
declare both the glory of God and an opportunity for astronomers. 
They declare neither exclusively. If we look for an exclusive 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 428 

declaration, it is found, not by selecting one from a number, 
calling the one real and the others illusion; it is found rather in 
the steady recognition of the fact that something is declared. This 
is but saying again that existence is what it reveals itself to be 
to a seeker, without addition or subtraction. And this may be 
turned around. It is the seeking of what existence reveals that 
defines the unity in existence and discovers the manifoldness of 
its revelations. This shows again how metaphysics is realistic in 
principle. At the risk of seeming to talk nonsense, I may say 
that the question, What is existence? is an existing question, 
one thrown up in the operations of nature, an event in the world 
fully as much as an eclipse of the sun, but more conspicuous 
than the latter. Familiarity with it may breed contempt. It is 
not, however, to be set aside and neglected. For man does not 
stand outside of nature and ask her questions. He stands inside. 
His questions well up within him, form on his lips as naturally 
as his smiles, and are as much a revelation of existence as his 
answers are. They are more. They are the final revelation of 
existence, declaring it to befor metaphysics at least first and 
foremost a question. When this is seen, the metaphysician need 
not hesitate to see a question answered in the growth of an 
acorn into an oak or the revolution of a planet about the sun. 
He may even go so far, running the risk of being laughed at as 
a poet or lover of metaphors, and say that acorn and planet 
have asked questions and found answers. At any rate, existence 
seeking will be for him a more impressive fact than existence 
found. That is why he will not put the inquisitive mind outside 
of nature and suppose that it is obliged to think of things different 
from the manner in which they are. He will keep it inside as the 
sure indication of what natural processes are, and if he finds an 
atom, he will not let the little thing drive mind out of nature 
and make of mind a problem never to be solved. He will gladly 
be something of an Hegelian and more of an Aristotelian to avoid 
that disaster. 

All this, as I have said, seems very simple to me. I have been 
told that it is too obvious, too much bare matter of fact, and 
that a philosopher, if he accepted it, would have nothing left 



424 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to do. He would lose his profession. I might answer that, if this 
were true, humanity might profit by the loss. But I do not 
believe it to be true. There is something still left for the philo- 
sopher. He can at least keep on asking questions and seeking 
their answers, and do this with the added consciousness of know- 
ing what he is about. His questions may be less foolish than they 
were. He may find that he has to give up many cherished prob- 
lems, like that of the red rose, the doubled moon, the vanished 
star, the bent stick, the presence of evil, the ubiquity of error, 
the clash of freedom and necessity, the reconciliation of mechan- 
ism and teleology, the possibility of knowledge, and the relation 
of soul to body, but he ought to thank God for it. He ought to 
be glad to be rid of appendages, sloughing them off, as nature 
seems to do, when they become useless or a hindrance. Even 
then he will have plenty to do in making confession to the world 
and, by his teaching, warning others from a sad employment of 
their time, using the history of philosophy as a text. And then, 
if he has sympathy, he may do some good. 

These remarks are a further confession of my own thoughts. 
I have never been interested in the "problems" of philosophy. 
That is, perhaps, not strictly true. Yet I cannot remember ever 
having been seriously worried about them. This fact, rather 
than the problems, has often worried me, for it convicts 
me, even to myself, of a lack of sympathy and stimulates my 
natural egotism unduly. These problems have been very impor- 
tant things in history and have had serious consequences. To be 
cold to them is not to be wholly comfortable in the society of 
others or in the quiet reading in one's study. I have known souls 
desperate in the clutches of necessity and I have read about 
Erasmus and Luther. The cry for a just God in a naughty world 
I have heard. But it all seems to me, speaking quite frankly, 
unfortunate and absurd, and sometimes abominable. I know, of 
course, that these worries are quite real and very important. I 
have had enough practical experience, enough of that sort of 
dealing with others which acutely exposes the conflicts which go 
on in men's souls, to know how real these things are, to be stirred 
with deep concern and to be prompted to be resolute in action. 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 425 

Yet I could never translate the practical conflicts of life into 
problems which philosophy must solve in order that these con- 
flicts may be reduced. This may be in me what is often called 
temperamental, or it may be a consequence of my father's in- 
fluence on my education. He was one of the justest and fairest 
men I have ever known, unselfishly solicitous about others, but 
he never worried about the world. Its make-up and that distribu- 
tion of good and evil which marks the life of man were never 
problems crying for a theoretical solution. He was a devout 
Christian and a devoted Churchman, but he never worried over 
any doctrine. I was early heretical and brought back Herbert 
Spencer from college. His serenity was undisturbed. He was 
serene. I can think of no better adjective. To borrow Matthew 
Arnold's words about Wordsworth the cloud of mortal destiny 
he put by. His constant prayer was: "We know not what a day 
may bring forth ; we only know that the hour for serving Thee is 
always present." We were intimate companions. And it may well 
be that living from childhood in the shadow of his unruffled 
confidence, I early grew to be indifferent to much that otherwise 
might have disturbed me. There have been times when the 
evident indifference of the order of nature to human concerns 
has been emotionally shocking and the sense of estrangement 
acute, but it is rare indeed that I have felt that such experiences 
implied a theoretical problem to be solved. In this sense, I was 
early, without knowing it, something of a pragmatist, asking 
myself what difference does it make to-morrow whether I am 
fated or free. And in my student days in Berlin, in 1893, I wrote 
a never-published and now-lost paper to prove that it made no 
difference. I wish I could read it now to see how well reminiscence 
is confirmed. 

Yet I have been and am interested in the problems of philosophy 
as excursions of the human mind. The history of ideas is one of 
the most absorbing and fascinating subjects in which I have 
ever engaged. Of all the great philosophers, Leibniz is the only 
one I could willingly eliminate. Here I confess to a prejudice. 
I know its origin. When I heard Ebbinghaus lecture on Leibniz 
in Berlin, he remarked: "Leibniz went about introducing himself 



426 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

to prominent people as a promising young man." That remark 
stuck. I always see Leibniz that way first and, consequently, 
come at his ideas with amusement. Yet, as I forget this, I can 
enjoy some enthusiasm in seeing how the differential calculus and 
the doctrine of pre-established harmony admirably work together, 
the monads reflecting the function of one equation, each with its 
own little differential. It is, generally, such congruences in ideas 
that I find more fascinating than any concern about their validity. 
Here I confess a greater debt to Ebbinghaus than amusement 
over Leibniz. He had the habit, every now and then, of brushing 
aside his notes, which followed a rather stupid method of classifi- 
cation, and running his fingers through his hair, exclaiming: 
"Aber nun, meine Herrn, wir mussen ein bischen interpretieren. 
Was will der Mensch?" Then, there was a lecture indeed. Yes; 
what would a man have? How does he go about having it? 
Whither is he led? Into the grip of what ideas does he fall? Where 
does he arrive, with or against his will? like Hobbes sending 
Christian souls to martyrdom in a heathen state as the only 
allowable escape from the absolute sovereignty of a king who 
orders them to renounce their faith. There is an inevitability to 
which ideas bow. They are gotten of experience, as Locke so 
abundantly shows, but once gotten, they lead experience instead 
of following it. And that to which they lead may send them back 
to clarify or mock their source. It is so with the problems of 
philosophy. They are born of ideas which experience generates. 
Once born, they run their course and then come back to clear or 
muddy their origin. They exercise a function rather than lead 
to a solution. The exercise of that function seems to me to 
be better displayed in the thinking of the great than it is displayed 
in introductions to philosophy, like Paulsen's for example, where 
the problems are systematically detached and rendered as the 
outgivings of a universal experience which no man ever had. 
Was der Mensch will is then entirely forgotten, although it is 
always what some man would, what he would in his day and 
generation, moved by the forces that played upon him, which 
has generated these problems with vitality. Deprived of indi- 
vidual and social backing, they are little more than formal 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 427 

exercises, good for discipline in ratiocination, but poor substitutes 
for the vitality of Plato or of Hume. 

While I have been writing, a rather cryptic saying of Professor 
Carman's has been claiming attention: "A man never thinks 
wrong; his danger lies in not thinking. It was a perplexing 
utterance and mixed up, as I remember, with some Hegelianism. 
Errors of thought seemed to be all too frequent and familiar 
things to be swept aside with an aphorism. The maxim did 
pedagogical service in his classroom. I will not say that he made 
us think right, but he made us think fatally. I well remember a 
class-mate, one of the best students in the college, who, after a 
thrice-repeated perfect analysis of Hume on causation, was made 
to swallow the doctrine much against his will, because he found 
no fault with it besides his own dislike. I cannot say what 
"Carman's philosophy" was. He certainly left me with no system 
of philosophy and no consciousness of one. He did leave me 
with an immense respect for the thinking mind. Its wanderings 
and where it would go next became more alluring than stopping 
at some comfortable inn along the way. And I remember another 
class-mate, a partner of the Berlin days, who asked me what 
system of philosophy I had decided on to teach when I returned 
to America. The question struck me as preposterous. I was 
diffident about admitting that I had no system, but I had heard 
the phrase "the Odyssey of the spirit, " and was more interested in 
what that phrase implied than in indoctrinating youth with any 
system, whether borrowed or egotistically thought to be original. 
I fear I may have changed in this respect, although I still boast 
of a contempt of discipleship. These things are said, however, 
not to praise my character but rather to illustrate my education 
and its bearing on my attitude toward the problems of philosophy 
and the history of ideas. The mind, like the body, has its excur- 
sions. The profit of them is the traveller's profit. 

I have already hinted that the travelling has a consequence. 
With me it has become a major one. Ideas, as Locke urged, are 
born of experience, of the body's contact with the body's world. 
He thought that God could although he believed that God did 
not have made the body think without the addition of a soul to 



428 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

help it. There was a beautiful courage in that honest Englishman 
who, like some other philosophers, came near to being a clergy- 
man. Yet he seems to have been a little afraid of the soul, a little 
afraid of "ideas" and used the term abominably. They ran away 
with himat times,as is well illustrated in his chapter on "Solidity." 
In this chapter Locke makes two statements which deserve 
critical attention: 'That which hinders the approach of two 
bodies when they are moved one towards another, I call solidity" ; 
and "If anyone asks me what this solidity is, I send him to his 
senses to inform him." Who will forbid the sending? But who 
can deny that the effect of it is a definition? Solidity turns out 
to be more than something at the tips of our fingers; it turns 
out to be something characteristic of the system of things in 
which our fingers move. Going to the senses opens the door to 
definable relationships. A man thereby enters a realm of being 
in which ideas enlarge and fructuate and from which he may 
return to his senses with a different touch. He is on his way to 
knowledge. This is not a matter of comparing our ideas to see 
whether they agree or differ as one might compare a sound and 
a colour. It is not a matter of compounding them as one might 
compound the tastes of water, sugar, and lemons and get the 
taste of lemonade. Locke's illustration is "gold," but his examples 
of knowledge are pitiful. When he is through with knowledge, he 
throws most of it over in favour of what he calls judgment, 
leaving the remnant as a foretaste of future bliss. It can all be 
made very ridiculous. Yet he was fundamentally sound. We must 
go to our senses, not our souls, if we are ever to enter the realm 
of mind. Far less acute than Descartes and far less subtle than 
Hume or Kant, he was far more solid than any of them. We enter 
the realm of mind through our senses, but it is a realm we enter. 
There a different authority rules than the porter who let us in. 
There one travels among ideas which are forced to acknowledge 
a controlling fate. 

And so, to continue this apology for my life, I have leaned on 
Locke as on a sure support. I have ridiculed before my classes 
what has seemed to me to be ridiculous in him, and I have forced 
him to exhibit the fate to which his own ideas were committed. 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 429 

If, however, I am at all sane, I thank him from the bottom of my 
heart, I thank him for sending me to my senses to find the mind 
rather than to Descartes to find it in doubt. For this ''sending 
to the senses' 1 when thoroughly worked out, reveals that what the 
senses define is not a discrete series of isolated contacts on which 
some synthesis must be superimposed. Locke so supposed, and 
his working out of the supposition amply demonstrates its futility. 
He was forced to define real knowledge as something no man 
could ever attain and make it, consequently, a conception of no 
use whatever in this mortal life. He should have paid more 
attention to what he had left, to those sciences he would free 
from the dictation of philosophers. We can never know whether 
our ideas agree with things, but we have to proceed as if they did ! 
But if we cannot know the former, what possible sense is there in 
saying the latter? What is the sense of saying that we must 
proceed on the basis of something we know nothing about? 
What is the sense of trying to reduce knowledge to psychology, 
when psychology must be a branch of knowledge or not worth 
the paper on which it is written ? Is psychology, too, the taking 
of ideas to agree with something without any knowledge whether 
they do or what that something is? Is the "science of knowledge" 
the same sort of thing? I must protest. The doctrine of the 
"association of ideas" in some form or other has remarkable 
vitality. The reason is, I suppose, that they are associated. When, 
however, we turn the fact of their association into an explanation 
of knowledge, we have to make a number of assumptions for 
which association cannot account. Chief of these is the great 
assumption which Locke himself made: that there is, to begin 
with, an order in things to which the mind tries to conform, 
sometimes succeeding, perhaps, but more often failing. This 
makes "the order in things" the crucial thing for the whole 
doctrine. If there is no such order, it is senseless to suppose that 
the association of ideas conforms to it or reveals it. If there is 
such an order, and if it is helpful to explain the association of 
ideas, then the association of ideas does not explain it or our 
knowledge of it. If we try to escape these alternatives by con- 
cluding that we have only an association of ideas to deal with, 



480 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

we may, perhaps, understand what we mean by "association' 1 
in this conclusion, but we ask in vain for an answer to the ques- 
tion, What do "only" and "ideas" distinguish? What are "ideas" 
contrasted with and what does "only" exclude? The conclusion 
excludes an answer, and is, therefore, meaningless. It is much 
better to go to one's senses, to go to what even Locke too much 
neglected, to the enterprises in which men are engaged in dis- 
covering order and not in supposing it exists or in trying to 
account for its existence to the hope of getting knowledge, 
not to the hopelessness of explaining it. Then order imposes itself 
upon us. It is found to be, not an assumption which we make, 
but a discovery which we welcome and fear. On it our happiness 
and misery depend. The better we know it, the more we can 
modify our destiny; and we are in its hands as in the hands of 
fate. We go to touch for solidity to discover it to be that which 
keeps bodies apart, something more than an isolated sense datum, 
something in an order of things. 

So I once wrote an article on "Structure" and, later, the Realm 
of Mind. The principle of realism, carried out, seems to me to 
lead repeatedly to at least the implication of structure. I have 
frequently hinted at this in what I have here written. Even the 
attempt to write something like one's philosophical biography, 
calling the past to remembrance and probably distorting it for 
effect, involves the attempt to find a framework into which 
events, readings, and reflections fit and thereby own some 
relation to one another. Whatever our account may be of, it is 
an account with some order or structure that is aimed at and 
expected. Without it the account cannot be understood; we call 
it unintelligible. If it is of the world or of nature that we would 
give an account, the same implication holds; we must discover 
or invent an order or structure. We are often deceived by in- 
vented orders when they are brilliant and tightly knit. They 
may impose on mankind for centuries. Even when we reject them, 
we admire them, and we more readily believe a man who tells 
us lies in an orderly fashion than one who tells us the truth in 
disorder. The reason for this is not our credulity. Invented orders 
are rarely pure inventions or wholly arbitrary. I doubt if they 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 481 

ever are. One lie forces a man to tell another, but this other 
must be a supporting lie, one which fits into a structure, the 
structure which the first implies, so that with the first lie a man 
is doomed to go on inevitably, if he goes on at all in its support. 
Even Fairyland and Nowhere soon rob their explorers of freedom. 
Premises freely or conventionally accepted lead to conclusions 
which their acceptance never suspected. Mathematics is the 
crowning example. Counting by tens is a convention, but Kant 
made a good deal of the fact that 7 + 5 = 12 is not. He be- 
laboured the fact with astute phraseology which ought not, 
however, because of a dislike of words, to obscure the leaning of 
the proposition on an order and not on its subject. Mathematics 
is the crowning example, and with its many applications is 
powerful enough to prove that order is not a human bias or an 
imposition on reluctant material. It is an implication of all 
existence, something to be set down as metaphysical, something 
which we creatures of a day never made for if we did, why do 
we rebel against it, cry over it, and yet seek it with our whole 
heart in the belief that it is the final answer to every question 
that we ask ? It, and not our minds, is responsible for the intelligi- 
bility of the world, and we have minds because our bodies are in 
contact with other bodies which jointly with it are in an order 
enmeshed. That is why I wrote the Realm of Mind. 

And that is why I have joined Spinoza to Locke in my affec- 
tions. Few philosophers have had the sense of order as supremely 
as Spinoza had it. It overpowered him and set him all atremble. 
Ostracized by society and ill with consumption, he could rest in 
it as in the embrace of God's love. The beauty of it in him for 
a modern reader lies in his freedom from epistemology and the 
confusions of subjectivism. He is astonishingly free from empiri- 
cism also. This, I find, is a matter of offence with students. It is 
difficult to get them to put, with him, the empirical world aside or 
take it for granted as something acknowledged but not allowed 
to interfere with the fatality of thought. They expect him to 
show why, as a consequence of God's nature, the seasons change 
and the clouds drop down their dew. That he is wise about men 
and has a profound knowledge of human nature seems clear 



432 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

from many a penetrating remark, but to affirm that whatever is 
even in this matter of human nature is in God and without God 
can neither be nor be conceived, is a queer sort of psychology. 
They often look at him as a juggler, who presents to them an 
apparently empty hat in the shape of definitions and axioms 
and then proceeds to draw out of it astonishing things. They 
rarely fail in the end to be impressed by an inevitability, august, 
sublime, and possibly tender. The empirical world is somehow 
caught in it and illustrates it just as this circle is caught in and 
illustrates the circle. The question why, if the circle exists, this 
circle should also exist, remains unanswered, but it tends to 
become unimportant, for there seems to be some sense, even if 
an obscure and baffling sense, in saying that without the circle, this 
circle could neither be nor be conceived. Quite possibly, Spinoza, 
like the rest of us, was a man who thought he proved more than 
he did. There is abundant evidence of it; and his method of 
exhibiting his thoughts leaves much to be desired. He was a 
very interesting person and a baffling one. People found him 
that. They thought he had said something important which they 
did not understand and which seemed to violate cherished 
beliefs and obvious facts, and when they asked him about it, he 
had the habit of telling them that they did not understand, 
that they knew nothing of God and the human mind. A psycho- 
analyst can readily find in him an inferiority complex and a 
defensive mechanism. It may be ungrudgingly admitted that he 
had both, and fled to God because the world rejected him or 
because he was too weak to accommodate himself to the world. 
The fact of him, however, and what he did are more important 
than any analysis of his personality. The Ethics is a book which, 
like Euclid, should be read with no curiosity about its author. 
It is a book in which personal opinions and prejudices should not 
be allowed to count. They are as irrelevant to the reader as 
Euclid, the man, is irrelevant to the boy studying geometry. For 
it is a geometrical effect one comes away with. In the light of 
this effect, the language can be discounted. The mediaeval 
terminology, all the apparent jugglery with essence, existence, 
idea, and power, is an instrument to impress upon the reader 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 433 

an overwhelming sense of the fact of order and structure. He 
must get substance before he gets anything else. He must begin 
philosophy with God and not with Locke. Unless he begins in 
this way, he can never understand anything; he may go to touch 
for solidity, but if he stops there he can never understand what 
he is saying when he says: By solidity, I mean this or that. For 
knowledge is not eating and we cannot be expected to devour 
what we mean. 

And so I lean on Spinoza as well as on Locke. To touch the 
world or experience it is very far from knowing it. Experience 
and knowledge seem to me to be very different things. I quote 
Santayana again, from memory: "I have often wondered at those 
philosophers who have said that all our ideas are derived from 
experience. They could never have been poets and must have 
forgotten that they were ever children; for the great problem of 
education is how to get experience out of ideas." It is the great 
problem of life and science : how to fit oneself into an order, how 
to get out of the idea of Relativity white marks on a photographic 
plate. Doing these things is knowledge. Bumping one's head 
against a wall is experience and a poor substitute. There is joy 
in going to the senses to experience if one does not stay there. 
They open the door to the realm of mind, to order, to structure, 
to the inevitable, to freedom, to substance, to God if God is 
that in view of which our destinies are shaped. 

It is with one of those unreasonable enthusiasms which we 
often have that I turn to Aristotle. He has said everything that 
I have ever said or shall ever say. He tells me that that is con- 
tinuous which, when cut, has common boundaries, and I find it 
unnecessary to go to Dedekind. This is quite stupid, I know, but 
I may as well confess it. He tells me that A is the cause of B, 
and B the cause of C, and so on for ever, but that B is not the 
cause of C because A is the cause of B ; and the weight of an in- 
finite series is lifted from my mind for ever. Everything begins 
when it does, and there is no need to search the past for a first 
cause or origin of things. Existence begins now fully as much as 
it ever began. A road begins at this end, but it also begins at the 
other end, even if it began at this end before it began at the 

VOL. II EE 



434 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

other; for nothing ever begins before or after it does begin. I 
admire this cool insistence on such simple and obvious things 
taking the beginning of a road as a first illustration of " principle 1 ' 
and then going to the keel of a ship, the axioms of geometry and 
the rules of a city. The principle of a thing is found where the 
thing begins, and we must never forget that in searching for 
principles. The tenses of the verb are the carriers of time. One 
thing may begin before or after another or may so have begun. 
Things may be and are arranged that way. But to arrange 
principles themselves in temporal order is to forget that we are 
always dealing with a dynamic world. Form, matter, efficacy, 
and end (purpose) are just as much now as they have ever been, 
but this particular case of them this man, this house, this 
stone never was or is, or will be again. It is this particular case 
which is interesting and important and the object of our questions. 
What is it? Out of what did it come? What effected its coming 
out? What purpose does it serve? A complete answer to these 
questions would tell us everything about the case. It would 
help us to the formulation of conditions which are "catholic," 
which hold good "on the whole" or for the most part; and so help 
us to arrange our knowledge in bodies of knowledge appropriate 
to this or that particular subject-matter. While we must always 
remember that we are dealing with a dynamic world and recog- 
nize that it is only some particular, individual case, not some- 
thing in general, that raises the question of the "four causes," 
we may address ourselves to this very fact and discover that 
particular field of inquiry which was later called metaphysics. 
What we must remember and recognize and what questions we 
ask when dealing with a stone or a house or a man, ought to 
give some indication of what it is to be, whether it is a stone, a 
house, or a man or even a god that is. The implications of 
being something are the implications of being anything, if 
"things will not be governed ill" rd Se ovra ov 



I owe to Aristotle my conception of metaphysics and the love 
of it. His errors and omissions I can point them out as con- 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 435 

fidently as the next man. I know how history has distorted him 
and what a tyrant he became over the minds of men. That was 
because few really read and studied him, or because they read 
and studied him with a mental set previously determined by their 
own language and ideas. I had to tell a very brilliant student 
once that the word "cause" never occurs in Aristotle, before I 
could make him see that his contention that Aristotle was not 
justified in the use of the term was amusing rather than critical. 
Students who go to his text often forget that his writings are not 
translations of English. Even so, he has a gripping power and, 
when read attentively, is still the great intellectual force he has 
always been. Compared with that, his errors, omissions, and 
tyranny are now trivial. From him I learned that metaphysics is 
a special interest and not a super-science which should dictate 
to others and criticize them. They can get on without it, although 
it cannot get on very well without them. Yet it admits no servile 
dependence. It does not wait on their permission or advice any 
more than they wait upon its. It would share with them mutually 
in the interests of the mind. But it frequently has to protest 
against the substitution of them in its place. It dares to be as 
egotistical as they are and be thankful. If Aristotle could try to 
keep them all together in happy companionship, why not keep 
on trying? For metaphysics would never aim at usurping their 
place. It would not boast, even if it boasted perfection, that it 
could solve a single problem in physics, chemistry, or biology, 
and it would not expect them to do its own work of analysis. 
Yet it would claim to be a very human enterprise without which 
a man may be easily intellectually warped and deficient in sym- 
pathy with the great episodes of human life. Aristotle, with all 
his errors, is immune to that. 

And, more technically, I have learned from him that meta- 
physics is analytic. It produces nothing out of a juggler's hat, 
and certainly not God and the world. It takes things as they are, 
in all their obvious plurality, and never supposes that they can 
be reduced to ultimates from which they sprang by miracle or 
evolution. It leaves the history of existence to historians and its 
evolution to evolutionists. Its interest is in what it is to be a 



436 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

history and what it is to be an evolution. That there are space 
and time, and matter and energy, and life and death and thought 
a world to know and minds to know it it admits beyond 
question. Faced with these things, it has no interest in why they 
are as they are why the body has a mind or the mind a body. 
It does not try to justify the ways of God or matter. Since nature 
produces many things, it is content to take her productivity as a 
fact without asking for a reason for it, knowing that the only 
possible reason would be "something that produces." But meta- 
physics would analyse productivity to see what it implies, 
without supposing that the results of its analysis disclose factors 
which once, in some far-away time, conspired together to make 
a world. 

One further debt I must acknowledge to Aristotle an appre- 
ciation of language which I never had until I studied him. I was 
early impressed with his use of the verb "to say" and his insistence 
that truth is not a matter of things but of propositions. Know- 
ledge, with him, is largely a matter of saying what things are. 
This gives a dominant logical note to all his writings, noticeable 
even in his descriptions and illustrations. It would seem, at times, 
as if a coherent system of sayings in a given field was of more 
importance to him than its subject-matter. He points out how 
certain common uses and turns of speech vary as they are used 
in varying connections. TO ov Aeycrat 7roAAax<3s. The principle 
is generalized almost to the roots of being. What is said is 
relevant to the occasions of saying it, so that the same expres- 
sion may exercise quite different functions in different con- 
nections. He made common words and phrases do unexpected 
service. He made, one might say, the Greek language conscious 
of itself as an instrument rather than as a language different from 
that of barbarians. And although truth is not a matter of nature, 
the saying of things is. When Socrates is said to be a man, some- 
thing has happened to him of which he may be unaware, but he 
has provoked conversation fully as much as he provoked the 
resentment of Athens. Existence is provocative. Its being so is 
one instance of its kinetic character, for speech is a motion fully 
as much as the movements of the spheres. What a saying effects 



FREDERICK J. E. WOODBRIDGE 437 

is consequently more important than the way of saying it, 
although a scrupulous nicety about expression is to be commended 
highly. From all this I hope I have learned a respect for language 
and been made aware that alarmingly different expressions in 
the same language and in different languages may convey the 
same idea. I have often told my classes that when Jonathan 
Edwards called his sweetheart "a handmaid of the Lord" he was 
not very far removed from the modern youth, who might call his 
"a damn fine girl/ 1 The different expressions connote a different 
culture and different proprieties, but should a metaphysician 
quarrel with either of them? The maid was provocative. I should 
not be surprised, therefore, if I found out that Thomas Aquinas 
and Immanuel Kant were saying the same thing; or John Calvin 
and Charles Darwin the many are called and the few chosen. 
It is again "Was will der Mensch"; and, perhaps, when a man 
thinks, he does not think wrong. The language he speaks may be 
unintelligible or sound absurd, but there is at least the suspicion 
that it is humanly vernacular. We all live in the same world of 
sunrise and sunset, but talk about it in languages which are 
diverse ; and what our differing utterances are relevant to is more 
important than their relevances to one another. Since they are 
relevant to something, I have been led to consider language as 
an instance of that give and take in nature which discovers ideas. 
And so I end, conscious that I have left unsaid things that 
might have been said and not as sure as I should like to be that 
I have fulfilled the purpose of this volume. I have taken the 
opportunity to be one which permits and encourages a freedom 
of expression and intimacy which one ordinarily might prefer 
to avoid. Confession is said to be good for the soul. I think I 
have had some good of it. Receivers of confessions one leaves 
the priest a little worried about what has been told. I think 
of David Hume: "I cannot say there is no vanity in making 
this funeral oration of myself, but I hope it is not a misplaced 
one; and this is a matter of fact which is easily clensed and 
ascertained/' 



438 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 

PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS 

The Philosophy of Hobbes (H. W. Wilson Co., 1903). 

The Purpose of History (Columbia University Press, 1916). 

The Realm of Mind (Columbia University Press, 1926). 

Contrasts in Education (Teachers' College, Columbia University, 

1929). 
The Son of Apollo: The Themes of Plato (Houghton, Mifflin Co., 

1929). 

Editor (with W. T. Bush and H. W. Schneider) of the Journal of 
Philosophy. 



INDEX 



ABSOLUTE 
realist criticism of the Absolute, 

190 
ANTH ROPOMORPH ISM 

in ethics and logic, 72 
ARISTOTLE 

his metaphysical teaching, 435 
and the appreciation of language, 
436 

BIOLOGY 

causal prepotency of the fer- 
tilized germ, 156 
BOOLE 

interpretation of logical rela- 
tions, 33 

algebraic calculus criticized, 34 
BOSANQUET 
quoted, 89, 92 



CAPITALISM 
its principles and development, 

348 
and the Russian experiment, 349 

DEWEY, JOHN 

studies at Vermont, 14 
intuitional phase, 15 
adopts philosophy as career, 16 
enters Johns Hopkins University, 

18 

influence of Hegel, 19 
religious doubts, 20 
interest in social problems, 20 
Hegel and Plato contrasted, 21 
formative influences, 22 
interest in education, 23 
influence of William James, 23, 

24, 25 
social significance of philosophy, 

26 



EDDINGTON, PROFESSOR 
quoted, in 



EINSTEIN 

description of relativity theory, 

157 

EMPIRICISM 

exposition of empirical stand- 
point, 227 
ETHICS 

theory of W. P. Montague, 147 
moral ideas and social forces, 340 
ethical conceptions and class 

standards, 342-3 
analysis of ethical ideas, 347 
society and the ethical principle, 

349 
EVOLUTION 

refers to part of reality, 179 
element of irrationality, 180 

GOD 

the ontological argument, 64 

an animistic theory of the cosmos, 

148 

GREEKS 
essential understanding of nature, 

249 

Greek progress towards human- 
ism, 265 

HARVARD 

philosophical teaching at, 137, 

188, 244 
HEGEL 

attraction of the dialectic, 19 

compared with Plato, 2 1 

critical estimate of, 79 

as consistent master of rationalist 
method, 226 

influence on Edgar Singer, 298 
HERBERT, GEORGE 

quoted, 303 
HOWISON, G. H. 

quoted, 85 

his system of idealism, 141 
HUME 

essential soundness of his method, 
1 66 



440 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 



IDEALISM 

recent reactions against, 87 
tested by temporality, 89 
psychological supports of, 90 
other revolts against, too 
exposition of empirical idealism, 

166 et seq. 
the two premises of, criticized, 

190 

arguments drawn from methodo- 
logical difficulty, 193 
examination of arguments of 
physiological and psychological 
relativism, 194 

distinctive mark of modern ideal- 
ism, 197 

idealism and individualism, 197 
distinction between idealist and 

realist doctrines, 198 
attacked by the new realism 

and pragmatism, 199 
the untenable alternatives of 
solipsism, relativism, and abso- 
lutism, 203 

tends to confused psychology 
and impotent logic, 205 

JAMES, WILLIAM 
critical estimate of his contribu- 
tion to philosophy, 24, 25 
quoted, 122 
character of, 188 
influence on G. Santayana, 245, 

251 
influence on C. A. Strong, 317 

KANT 
transcendentalism and realism, 

77 
doctrine of freedom criticized, 

94 
criticism of Kant and Hume, 319 

LEIBNIZ 

on nature of real being, 324-5 
LEOPARDI 

quoted, 294, 295 



LEWIS, C f I. 

early sceptical impulses, 31 

Harvard teachers, 32 

mathematical researches, 33 

problem of material implication, 
35 

analysis of logical relations, 37 

valid inference rests on analysis 
of meaning, 38 

logical systems are composed of 
necessary propositions, 39 

problem of the final criterion of 
truth, 41 

extra-logical elements in reason- 
ing, 42 

formulation of conceptual prag- 
matism, 44 

discussion of the criteria of the 

real, 47 
LOCKE 

doctrine of ideas, n., 93, 427 
et seq. 

LOEWENBERG, J. 

creed of problematic realism, 55 
nature of scientific method, 56 
science opposed to metaphysics, 

57 

u the given" in science and philo- 
sophy, 6 1 

nature of post-analytical datum, 

6 ? 

various approaches to proble- 
matic realism, 64-72 

views on ethics and logic, 72 

art and religion, 73 

Kant's transcendentalism, 76 

debt to J. Royce, 77 

influence of Hegel, 78 

impetus from Santayana, 79 
LOGIC 

algebraic calculus of, 33, 34 

material implication and deduc- 
tive inference, 35 

examination of logical relations, 36 

inference dependent on analysis 
of meaning, 38 

corroborative examples, 38 

necessary propositions and empiri- 
cal truths, 39 



INDEX 



441 



LOGIC (continued) 

logical systems consist of neces- 
sary propositions, 39 

inference is analytic of logical 
systems as systems, 40 

discussion of a coherence theory 
of truth, 40 

use of symbols, 42 

psychological selection of con- 
clusions, 42 

logic is the a priori element in 
knowledge, 44 

choice in the formulation of 

concepts, 46 
LOVE JOY, A. O. 

dilemma of absolute realism or 
absolute idealism, 86 

experience is mutable and succes- 
sive, 88 

criterion of temporalism, 89 

inadequacy of idealism, 91 

criticism of Kantianism, 93 

pluralistic metaphysics, 97 

criticism of Bertram! Russell, 103 

McGlLVARY, E. B. 

use of scientific methods in philo- 
sophy, 109 

view of space and time, 1 10 
theory of the physical field of 

vision, 113 

classification of objects, 115 
concept of zero-interval, 119 
unitary character of sense-field, 

120 

nature of visual images, 128 
functions of the physiological 

organism, 130 
intellectual influences, 131 
MATHEMATICS 

deductive development of, 44 
MEINONG 

scientific method and the problem 

of value, 360 
METAPHYSICS 

defined as integrations of physics 

and psychology, no 
metaphysical teaching of Aris- 
totle, 435 



MIND 

psycho -physical theory of, 154, 

155 
MONTAGUE, W. P. 

early influences, 136 

debt to teachers, 138 

doctor's thesis, 140 

as university teacher, 141 

addiction to mathematics, 142 

atmosphere of Columbia Uni- 
versity, 144 

disappointing trend of the new 
realism, 147 

ethical views, 147 

the universe as an ethical being, 
149 

experience of a new dimension, 
150, 151 

theory of sensations, 153, 154 

biological theory, 156 

nature of cosmological process, 

157 
MORRIS, G. S. 

as teacher of philosophy, 18 

NATURALISM 

basic principles of, 274 
assumptions of physical realism, 

274 

organization in nature, 275 
origination in nature, 276 
analysis of consciousness, 279 
the place of humanism and values, 
282, 283 

NIETZSCHE 
quoted, 297 
The Genealogy of Morals, 359 

PALMER, G. H. 
as teacher of philosophy, 245 

PARKER, DE WITT H. 
student at Harvard, 164 
teacher at Michigan, 165 
agreement with Berkeley, Scho- 
penhauer, and Bergson, 167 
creed of empirical idealism, 167 
modern space-time theories, 176, 
179 



442 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 



PARKER, DE WITT H. (continued) 
views on emergent evolution, 

179 

inorganic world higher than or- 
ganic, 179 

value and existence, 181 
PERRY, R. B. 
student at Harvard, 188 
debt to James, 189 
criticism of idealism, 190 
idealism and the ego-centric pre- 
dicament, 193 

idealist and realist methods con- 
trasted, 197-8 
historic significance of modern 

American realism, 199 
divergencies of pragmatists and 

realists, 200 
the individual and the values of 

objects, 202-3 

authority and liberalism, 206 
the goal of ethical endeavour, 

207 
criterion of universal happiness, 

207 
internationalism and religion, 

208 

PHILOSOPHY 

in relation to social needs, 26 
an analytic depiction of the 

a priori, 48 
metaphysical concepts liable to 

change, 48 
community of thought requires 

community of concept, 49 
conceptual interpretation and 

predictability, 49 
knowledge and structure of ex- 
perience, 50 
problematic realism expounded, 

56, 62, 66 

nature of the ultimate, 58 
finality of epistemological data, 

61 

limits of analysis, 62 
nature of post-analytical datum, 

63 

notion of substance, 64 
function and nature of judgment, 
66 



PHILOSOPHY (continued) 
dilemma of absolute realism or 

absolute idealism, 86 
experience is mutable and suc- 
cessive, 88 

"temporal" realism, 89 
criticism of Kantianism, 93 
nature of experience, 95, 96 
knowledge and its references, 97 
as integration of scientific inter- 
pretations, 109 

discussion of relationships, 112 
value of relativity, 117 
analysis of sensations, 153 
mind as field of potential energy, 

154 

"selective" relativity of objects 
to a subject, 155 

"radical empiricism" the proper 
standpoint, 166 

all physical things consist of 
percepts and activities, 167 

similar interpretation of inor- 
ganic phenomena, 168 

existence in past, present, and 
future, 172 

reasons for prevalence of sub- 
jectivism, 191 

attitude to universe of idealists 
and realists, 192 

recent distrust of abstract specu- 
lation, 224 

philosophy as a work of art, 
224 

value as intellectual discipline, 
225 

the data of experience, 228 

the study of perception, 268 

the investigation of experience, 
269 

nature of the act of perceiving, 
269 

knowing is the interpretation of 
objects, 270 

reference to an object, 318 

the doctrine of "intent," 319 

analysis of introspection, 320 

true nature of the existent, 322 

panpsychism and modern physics, 
323 



INDEX 



443 



PHILOSOPHY (continued) 
consciousness as potential energy, 

324 

continuity and causal action, 327 
the doctrine of absolute values, 

363 
partial reconciliation of idealism 

and realism, 369 
philosophical reactions, 400 
the confusion in philosophy, 405 
order is the implication of all 

existence, 431 
PHYSICS 

nature of the field of vision, 113 
analogy of the camera, 114 
classification of objects, 115 
mathematical treatment of phy- 
sical time and visual time, 119 
physical space is a system of 

relations, 126 
the seen qualities of physical 

objects, 127 
time and space theories of modern 

physics, 175-7 
the revolution in physics a 

change in notation, 255 
modern physics and cosmic time, 

323 

units of energy in space, 326 
PLATO 

diverse interpretations of, 21 
PRAGMATISM 

C. I. Lewis's theory of conceptual 

pragmatism, 44 
criticized by J. B. Pratt, 215 
discussed and criticized by W. M. 

Urban, 365-6 
PRATT, J. B. 

early influences, 213 
psychology of religion, 214 
criticism of pragmatism, 215 
formulation of critical realism, 

216 
tendency towards persona lism, 

217 
interest in oriental thought, 218 

RATIONALISM 
definition of rationalist, 226 



REALISM 
exposition of "temporal" realism, 

89 

recent confirmations of, 100-1 
implications of the theory, 102 
description of physical field of 

vision, 113 
objections to the realistic theory 

of sensible space, 125 
divergencies of neo-realists, 145, 

146 

standpoint of modern realism, 196 
significance of modern American 

realism, 199 
social basis of ethical judgments, 

204 
the transcendence of the mind, 

216 

interaction of body and mind, 217 
R. W. Sellars's theory of realism, 

267 et seq. 

assumptions of neo-realism, 319 
fallacies of neo-realism, 367 
implications of realism, 430-1 
REALITY 
experience and the criteria of 

the real, 47 

nature of categories of reality, 47 
reality is problematic, 56 
relativity of the ultimate, 59 
analysis of "the given," 60 
mysticism and problematic real- 
ism, 65 
reality is manifest substantially, 

66 
function and nature of judgment, 

66 
objective reference of judgment, 

67 
the determinations of existence, 

67 

judgment's claim to truth, 68 
the four kinds of truth, 68 
truth and the paradox of judg- 
ment, 70 

judgment is response to a proble- 
matic situation, 71 
implications of problematic real- 
ism, 75 



444 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 



REALITY (continued) 
temporality of existence, 87 
past, present, and future a three- 
fold reality, 172 
reality and the categories of 

value, 362 
RELATIVITY 
theories discussed, in 
concept of "zero-interval," 117 
description of Einstein's theory, 

157 

RELIGION 

and Scotch philosophy, 15 
as philosophic problem, 20 
generating forces of, 149 
psychology of religion, 214 
central note of religion, 230 
religions as imaginative systems, 

243 
defined by E. A. Singer, 305 

ROGERS, A. K. 
early interest in philosophy, 224 
philosophy as a work of art, 224 
meaning of empiricism, 227 
leaning towards theism, 229 
science and utilitarianism, 230 
faith and the unknown, 231 
society and the individual, 232 
metaphysics and religion, 233 

ROYCE, JOSIAH 
influence on J. Loewenberg, 77 
qualities as lecturer, 139, 188 
influence on G. Santayana, 245 

RUSSELL, BERTRAND 
quoted, 101, 121 
recent theory criticized, 103 

RUSSIA 

significance of Bolshevist experi- 
ment, 349 

SANTAYANA, G. 
critical estimate of his philosophy, 

80 

ancestral influences of, 239 
character of his father and 

mother, 240 

childhood in Boston, 241 
intellectual development, 242 
early religious influences, 243 



SANTAYANA, G. (continued) 
religions as imaginative systems, 

243 
systems regarded as symbols, 

244 

student at Harvard, 244 
romanticism and pessimism, 246 
dissatisfaction with optimism, 247 
bias to materialism, 249 
Berlin and Greek philosophy, 249 
synopsis of The Life of Reason, 

249-250 
thought as a controlled madness, 

250 

influence of W. James, 251 
critical estimate of W. James, 252 
scepticism combined with animal 

faith, 253 

acceptance of behaviorism, 254 
ideas considered as essences, 254 
the revolution in physics a 

change in notation, 255 
reality and animal faith, 255 
views on the fine arts, 256 
influence on C. A. Strong, 315 
influence on F. J. E. Wood- 

bridge, 415 
SCHOPENHAUER 

influence on De W. H. Parker, 

167, 168 

on emergent evolution, 180 
philosophy of pessimism, 293 
SCIENCE 

nature of the scientific method, 56 
radically opposed to metaphysics, 

57 

science suspicious of finality, 57 
science is description, 65 
presupposes the self-existent, 65 
SELLARS, R. W. 
formative years, 261 
educational, 262 
bias to individualistic outlook, 

263 
revolt against supernaturalism, 

263 

transformation of religion, 264 
interest in social problems, 264 
intellectual influences, 265 



INDEX 



445 



SELLARS, R. W. (continued) 

towards a philosophical stand- 
point, 266 

rejection of idealism, 269 
theory of perception, 269 
knowing is an interpretation of 

objects, 270 

denial of cognitive relation, 271 
internal reference, 271 
discussion of truth, 272 
critical realism as a direction of 

thought, 273 

exposition of naturalism, 274 
origination in nature, 276 
ultimate nature of physical 

systems, 277 

the problem of mind-conscious- 
ness-body, 278 

analysis ot consciousness, 279 
interpretation of pluralism, 281 
control in the universe, 281 
antithesis between freedom and 

necessity, 281 
discussion of values, 283-4 
SINGER, EDGAR A. JR. 

philosophy born of disillusion- 
ment, 292 
Schopenhauer and Leopard i, 293- 

294 

Whitman and Darwin, 295 
Nietzsche and the Superman, 296 
evolution and a goal, 297 
influence of Hegel, 298 
Kingdom of Nature subdued 
and the Vision of Science, 
299-301 

the ordering of life, 302 
the sense of mental participa- 
tion, 303 

progress and the ideal, 304 
the definition of religion, 306 
the eternal and the fleeting, 307 
SPACE 

time and space concepts of 

modern physics, 174, 177 
SPINOZA 

the sense of order, 431 
STRINGHAM, PROFESSOR 
as mathematical teacher, 142 



STRONG, C. A. 
philosophical studies, 313 
doctrine of perception, 314 
influence of Santayana, 315 
relation of subject and object, 

316 

assumptions of neo-realism, 318 
sources of philosophical error, 

319 

criticism of Kant and Hume, 319 
the doctrine of "intent," 318-319 
analysis of introspection, 320 
agreement with Kant's internal 

sense, 321 

animal faith and ultimate ques- 
tions, 322 
modern physics and cosmic time, 

323 

sensationalism combined with be- 
haviorism, 323 

reduction of objects to feeling, 324 
Leibniz and nature of being, 

324-5 

existents and time and space, 325 
continuity and causal relations,326 
panpsychism and spirit, 327 
morality and human nature, 329 
SUBSTANCE 
intrinsic nature of, 64 

TIME 

crucial nature of concept of, 88 
an idealistic conception of, 169 
the past, present, and future 

element in existence, 172 
time as a series of overlapping 

areas, 173 
TORREY, H. A. P. 

character of, 14 
TRUTH 

logic and a coherence theory of 

truth, 40 

inadequacy of logical tests, 41 
definitive nature of necessary 

truths, 45 

four-fold root of truth, 68 
the tests of truth, 69 
discussion of philosophical truth, 

272 



446 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 



TUFTS, J. H. 
ancestry, 333 
parentage and early education, 

334-5 

college life, 336 
importance of teaching, 337 
instructor in Michigan University, 

338 

a year in Berlin, 339 
translates Windelband's History 

of Philosophy, 339 
the University and modern prob- 
lems, 340 

study of ethics, 340 
morality and vested interests, 341 
arbitration experiences, 341 
ethics and class standards, 343 
conflicting ideas of justice, 344-5 
Plato and the health of the soul, 

346 

universal law and personality, 347 
the ethical principle and the 

social system, 348 
capitalism and the Bolshevist 

experiment, 348-9 
criticism of college methods, 350 
reflections on art and religion, 

351-2 

URBAN, W. M.-~ 

biographical, 356 

philosophical teachers, 357-8 

influence of Nietzsche, 359 

application of scientific method 
to problem of value, 360 

development of the axiological 
standpoint, 361 

reality and the categories of 
value, 362 

exposition of the philosophy of 
absolute values, 363 

influence of pragmatism, 364-5 

essential incoherence of the prag- 
matic theory of value, 366 

fallacies of realism, 367 

beyond realism and idealism, 368 

partial reconciliation of idealism 
and realism, 369 

difficulty of nomenclature, 370 



URBAN, W. M. (continued) 
evolution of his spiritual life, 371 
pre-eminence of the problem of 

values, 372 
failure of modern readjustments, 

372 
influence of the metaphysical 

tradition, 373 
the issue between modernism 

and tradition, 373 
statement of metaphysical creed, 

374 
value inseparable from reality, 

375 

conception of religion, 376 
towards a philosophy of language 

and symbolism, 377 
language and the moderns, 377-8 
the heresy of neo-nominalism, 

378-9 

certain basic assumptions, 379 
element of mysticism, 380 

WENLEY, R. M. 

school and life, 385 

Scottish Universities, 386 

the chief professors, 387 

intellectual and religious ten- 
dencies in Scotland, 388-9 

family connections, 391 

early reading, 392 

the historical method and the 
sense of an exalted quest, 393-4 

attraction to study of religion, 

394 

the theological professors, 395 
provisional conclusions, 395 
College lectureship, 396 
philosophy means metaphysics, 

397 

mystical element in philosophy, 
398 

philosophical reactions and cross- 
currents, 399-400 

vacillations in thought, 401 

progress in natural knowledge 
leaves problem unsolved, 403 

the confusion in philosophical 
thought, 404 



INDEX 



447 



WENLEY, R. M. (continued) 
the stage of reinterpretation, 407 
the urgent need of a synthesis, 

408 

the quest of coherence, 409 
life and human ideals, 409 
unification of knowledge and 
faith, 410 

WHITMAN, WALT 
quoted, 295 

WOODBRIDGE, F. J. E. 
Sanlayana and his Life of 

Reason, 415 

indebtedness to Santayana, 416 
Spinoza, Locke, and Aristotle, 

structure and activity, 417 
metaphysics and doubt, 418 
sympathy with realism, 419 
Berkeley, Kant, and Hegel, 420 
an ingrained principle of realism, 

421 

the appeal of existence, 422 
discussion of the question of 
existence, 423 



WOODBRIDGE, F. J. E. (continued) 
the province of philosophy, 424 
philosophy and the practical 

conflicts of life, 425 
character of father of F. J. E. 

Woodbridge, 425 
engrossing interest in history of 

ideas, 425 

prejudice against Leibniz, 426 
Ebbinghaus as lecturer, 426 
the function of the problems of 

philosophy, 426 
influence of Professor Carman, 

427 

Locke's doctrine of ideas, 427-9 
implications of realism, 430 
order is the implication of all 

existence, 431 

Spinoza's sense of order, 431-2 
experience and order, 433 
Aristotle and Dedekind, 433 
metaphysical teaching of Aris- 
totle, 435 
Aristotle and the appreciation 

of language, 436 




GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD 

LONDON: 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C.i 

CAPE TOWN: 73 ST. GEORGE'S STREET 

SYDNEY, N.S.W. : WYNYARD SQUARE 

AUCKLAND, N.Z.: 41 ALBERT STREET 

TORONTO: 77 WELLINGTON STREET, WEST